Choose one of the options below and write a 3- to 3½-page essay that addresses the prompt. No works cited required
Khushwant Singh’s novel Train to Pakistan has three main characters: Juggut Singh, a Sikh peasant and “budmash” (bad man or criminal) who lives in the village of Mano Majra; Mr. Hukum Chand, a Hindu magistrate and commissioner in the district where Mano Majra is located; and Iqbal Singh, a secular (non-religious), urban, well-educated man who has been sent to Mano Majra by the People’s Party of India (a communist organization) to organize its poor, rural people to demand greater rights.
Choose one of these characters and write an essay that examines, and makes a judgment about, his ethics or morality. Does this character behave ethically or unethically? Is he “good,” “bad” or somewhere in between, and what specific actions, or failures to act, lead you to make this judgment?
Since readers have access to these characters’ thoughts and moral reasoning about their decisions, you should consider thesethings as well. Do the thoughts a character has about himself and his situation make his actions seem more, or less, sympathetic or admirable? (Note: literary characters, like people in real life, are not always good judges of their own motives and actions, so you have to be careful here. Juggut Singh is an interesting case in point: he considers himself a bad man because that is what it says in the police registry, but is he?)
Apart from what a character may think to himself in his own defense, are there any objective factors that cause us to look more or less favorably on the character’s actions or failures to act? Is he, in other words, doing the best he can under the circumstances? (Both Hukum Chand and Iqbal Singh spend a good deal of time thinking about these circumstances and how they may limit what they can do.)
In judging your character’s ethics or morality, you should consider his thoughts and behavior generally, but pay particular attention to his response to the communal violence (violence across ethnic or religious lines) that is at the center of the novel. What does the character do or not do when confronted with these events? To what extent is he complicit in or responsible for the bloodshed, sexual violation and dispossession that are engulfing the newly separated countries of India and Pakistan?
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