The Lal Singh Trilogy: by Mulk Raj Anand - Summary

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(Group of Three Novels)

      Mulk Raj Anand wrote a trilogy of novels—Village, Across the Black Water, The Sword and the Sickle—dealing with the life of Lal Singh, published during the years 1939-1942, the period of on going second World War and the era of the Gandhian struggle for Independence.

(i) Village

      Lal Singh is a boy like Munoo and Bakha, but he belongs to a slightly higher social status. He is the son of Nihal Singh, who is a farmer and living in a village of Punjab. Lal Singh is happy living in an idyllic surroundings of the nature. He is a boy of revolutionary views so he has to face troubles at every step. He gets his hair cut because he eats in a Muslim shop. Later; he is charged with molesting a girl on the eve of his elder brother’s marriage. His face is blackened by the villagers and he is made to parade on a donkey He, however, manages to escape from the scene to avoid this disgrace, and then joins the army At the village, an ugly accident took place, his brother is hanged because he had killed the landlord’s son. The family is ruined, and old Nihal Singh, dies of heart failure and as the World War I breaks out, Lal Singh is ordered to go across the seas to fight the German Emperor’s armies.

(ii) Across the Black Waters

      Across the Black Waters is the second novel in Anand’s trilogy in which Lal Singh’s experiences in abroad are recounted. He first lands at a French port and proceeds fighting on the side of the Allies armies there. He finds the Allies are not united and the British armies are itself discriminated between the angrez sahibs and the Indian sepoys. The sepoys themselves are not unified, there are many disrupted members among them. While in France, he befriends with a boy Andre and his sister Marie. He sees the death of many of his friends in the battlefield and also through suicide. However, there is no change in Lal even living in these foreign surroundings, he still remains a son of Indian farmer, and a farmer himself.

(iii) The Sword and the Sickle

      The Sword and the Sickle is the third novel in Anand’s trilogy in which the last phase of Lal Singh’s life is dealt with. Lal Singh returns to India and takes an active part in India’s struggle for freedom. It is a matter of great shock and frustration for Lal to see the various conflicts, tensions, greed and selfishness characteristic of Indian society even during the days of Gandhian period. Through these shocks, Lal Singh is eventually educated to wisdom and maturity.

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