Describe how the issue of caste was included in novels in India. By referring to any two novels, discuss the ways in which they tried to make readers think about existing social issues.
Indians used the novel as a powerful medium to criticise what they considered defects in their society and to suggest remedies. The issue of caste was included in Indian novels for this same purpose. For example:-
(i) Chandu Menon's "Indulekha"- A love story which is a comment upon the marriage practices of upper-caste Hindus in Kerala. Caste seems to be an important factor in establishing marriage alliances. Nambuthiris were major landlords in Kerala at that time and a large section of the Nayars were their tenants.
The story of Indulekha is worth-mentioning here. Suri Nambuthiri, the foolish landlord comes to marry Indulekha, who is very intelligent. She rejects him and marries Madhavan who is an educated civil servant. The novelist Chandu Menon wanted his readers to appreciate the new values of his hero and heroine and criticize the ignorance and immorality of Suri Nambuthiri.
While writers like Chandu Menon wished to bring about reforms within their castes, there were others who sought to reform the entire caste-based society.
(ii) “Saraswativijayam”- Saraswativijayam was written by Potheri Kunjambu, a lower-caste writer from north Kerala. This novel attacks on caste oppression. The novel revolves around a young man who happens to be an ‘untouchable’. He converts to Christianity, obtains modern education and returns to his village as a judge in the local court. Meanwhile, the villagers, thinking that the landlord’s men had killed him, file a case. In the end, the judge reveals his identity and the Nambuthiri repents and reforms his ways. Apart from being critical of the upper castes, this novel also stresses the importance of education for the upliftment of the lower castes.