Department of English
Central University of Jammu.
The paper analyses Mulkraj Anand’s novel Across the Black Waters (1940), a touching account of the contribution of the Indian army in the Great War. It is an important novel as it acquaints us with the brutal atmosphere of the Great War and with the meticulous hardships of Indian soldiers. Much has been written by western authors about their respective soldiers’ contribution and sacrifices. However, the Indian soldiers’ contribution has remained by and large ignored as the western literature and history have not accorded adequate account of the sufferings of the Indian soldiers. The paper therefore, throws light on the Indian soldiers and warriors who laid down their lives in the great havoc of 1914 with special reference to the novel. Across the Black Waters with its continental background, is a illustration of Lal Singh (the protagonist) and his companions’ experiences of fighting against Germans in France during W.W.I and concludes with Lal Singh becoming a German prisoner of war— a war which was not his own nor for his peoples’ cause but a ‘tragic absurdity’. The first and only fictional account of the use of Indian troops in WWI, the story raised the ethical question of the deployment of Indian troops in a British war. The paper also focuses on the role and contribution of India in the war as portrayed in Across the Black Waters. It rationally describes the sufferings, brutalities, pain, agony, miseries and hardships that the Indian sepoys actually underwent on the battle field as recorded in the novel. The World War I prepared thousands of Indian soldiers to die for a country which they were not the citizens of.