Home Literature Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand Summary

Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand Summary

by Litinbox

Untouchable‘ is Mulk Raj Anand’s debut novel first published in 1935. This novel is a portrayal of suppression of people in India in the name of caste and social status. He throws floodlight on the darkest spots of the untouchability that prevails till date. It is said that this novel is based on an experience of Anand’s aunt who was treated as an outcast in a Muslim house.

Mulk Raj Anand is considered to be one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Indian English Novels. This novel was published in England with E M Forster’s preface.

In ‘Untouchable’, Anand depicts a particular day in the life of Bakha, an untouchable by his profession as a ‘latrine cleaner’. This novel is set in Bulandsha, a fictional Indian town. His father Lakha is the head of all the sweepers in the town. Lakha is lazy, tolerant and submissive. But Bakha is intelligent and often questions his suppressive state in society.

Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand Summary

‘Untouchable’ begins with Lakha yelling at Bakha to get out of bed and go for his duties. Yet Bakha continues to be in bed. A high class man named Charat Singh, a famous hockey player, arrives and shouts at Bakha to clean the latrine so that he can use it. Then Charat Singh changes his mind and invites Bakha to visit his house later in the day. He promises a high-priced hockey stick at his visit. Bakha overjoys.

After completing his duties he hurries back home to quench his thirst. But he finds the water bucket empty. Sohini, Bakha’s sister goes to fill the water bucket. Sohini stands at the queue of several other outcasts in the well. A jealous woman named Gulabo also standing there for water.

Gulabo hates Sohini extremely because she thinks Sohini is low of status. Pandit Kali Nath, a priest in the local temple comes and help her take water. He then leaves instructing her to clean the temple later in the day. She agrees and comes back home.

Lakha pretends to be ill. Bakha goes in his place to clean the town square and the temple courtyard. As Bakha is eating his favourite candies, a high-caste man attacks him as he forgets to give the untouchable’s call. A big crowd gathers and Bakha feels he is put into a public shame. Bakha hurries to temple crying, unable to tolerate such a ruthless inhuman public shaming.

At the temple Bakha remembers to give untouchable’s call. Some service is being done inside the temple. His mind is intrigued to watch the service. He is dare enough to enter the temple.

Inside the temple, a scream from behind reaches Bakha’s ears. A crowd gathers around where Kali Nath is accusing Sohini for polluting the temple. He pulls away Sohini from the crowd and comes to know that she was sexually assaulted by the priest. Furious Bakha seeks to confront the priest in person, but he is stopped by his sister.

Bakha goes to beg for food. He is screamed at in a house. The woman who screams at him offers to give him food if he can clean the area around her house. As he is cleaning, her child is relieving its refuse there. Disgusted Bakha leaves the place dropping all things there itself. Back at the home Bakha pours out all his emotions to his father. Lakha convinces him telling there are bad as well as good people in the high caste.

Unwilling to eat leftovers of the high castes, Bakha leaves home to attend his friend Ram Charan’s sister’s wedding. Ram Charan’s mother hates Bakha as he is an outcast. Despite his mother’s warnings, Ram Charan joins his friends Chota and Bakha to a jollity.

Alone, the two other boys sense something wrong with Bakha. When they force him to tell, Bakha breaks out and recollects what has happened early in the day. Chota is ready to revenge them, but Bakha doesn’t believe in revenge as it may bring them a havoc. Chota tries to cheer Bakha up by reminding the hockey game they will play in the evening. Suddenly Charat Singh’s invitation to his house strikes in mind. So, he hurries to Charat’s home.

Bakha waits under a tree at Charat Singh’s home not sure of his presence at home. He is both excited and afraid to think about how he would be treated at Charat Singh’s home.

Charat Singh comes out and invites Bakha to have a cup of tea with him. Bakha is really very happy to be with such a wonderful human. He is treated cordially. To his surprise, he is allowed to touch anything at his house. Unlike all he has met earlier, this man is something different who doesn’t mind that his presence pollutes his home.

Bakha is gifted with a brand-new hockey stick. An overjoyed Bakha joins the hockey game with his friends. He scores high in the game. The opposite team gets angry. A sudden clash occurs between them that ends up in an injury to a young boy. Bakha takes the boy and rushes home for first aid. But the boy’s mother reprimands Bakha. Distraught, Bakha gets back home. His father screams at him for having neglected his duties all the afternoon. Bakha is banished from home that he should never to return.

Colonel Hutchinson, the chief of local army, takes the listless Bakha with him. But his wife doesn’t like a black man with her husband. So, Bakha reverts back to streets. Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival at the city is being spoken off. Bakha joins the group of people going to attend the meeting.

Gandhi arrives and begins his speech. He talks about the plight of outcasts and how it is his mission to emancipate them from such  a pathetic condition. He concludes his speech requesting people to spread his words.

After his departure, Bakha listens to two educated men discussing about the possibility of ending untouchability. Their elevated language attracts Bakha so much rather than their words. One of them informs the imminent arrival of flush toilet in India that will gradually eradicate the need for men to clean human refuse. Bakha hurries back to home and shares Gandhi’s speech and the imminent arrival of flush toilet with his father.

Untouchable Characters


The protagonist of this novel, ‘Untouchable’. Bakha is an outcast whose one day experience is the plot of this novel.


Lakha is Bakha’s father. Lakha is very much a lazy man who wants all his works done by his sons.


Sohini is Bakha’s sister. She is molested by the priest of the local temple, Pandit Kali Nath.

Ram Charan

One of Bakha’s friends. Despite being a higher caste, Ram Charan is friendly with Bakha with all compassion and empathy.

Charat Singh

Charat Singh is a popular hocky player. He is so kind with Bakha and gifts him a valuable hockey stick.


A woman in the locale of Bakha. She hates Sohini very much, because she belongs to a lower caste, ostracized by their society.