Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Class And Racial Division - The Jewel In The Crown by Paul Scott

February 13, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 222

Paul Scott's The Jewel In The Crown is the first of his tetralogy of novels on British India. These really were the last days of the Raj. And the jewel in Empress Victoria's crown was India, itself. Without it Britain may have remained a colonial power rather than an imperial one. Status was all.

But Paul Scott's book is no jingoistic celebration of empire. On the contrary it lays bare the pretensions, the racism and above all the class divisions that characterise the society that Britain exported to its colony. And, in the final analysis, while India embarked upon an unsatisfactory, divided independence, the British - certainly those directly involved, but perhaps the rest of us as well - remained trapped within their cocoon of often inappropriate and certainly blind presumptions. While India might challenge caste via development and prosperity, the British remain trapped in the class divisions that their own early economic success created.

Central to the story embedded in The Jewel In The Crown is the relationship between Daphne Manners and Hari Kumar. In 1942 Daphne is already a victim of war. She has lost all her family and has been driving an ambulance in the blitz. Her uncle, now deceased, happened to be a high ranking official in the British Raj so, by way of respite, she travels to her aunt in India to pick up the pieces of her life. She soon moves on to Mayapore where she does nursing in the hospital and also volunteers at the Sanctuary, a hospice for those found dying on the street.

Hari Kumar is the lynchpin in the tale's structure. An only child, he was raised in Britain from the age of two and was about to finish school - Chillingborough no less, a prestigious public school - when his bankrupt father committed suicide. His mother had died in childbirth, so he was left both alone and penniless in England, the place he called home. An aunt in India was his only hope. So he is also in Mayapore trying to find a way of making some sort of living. He speaks no "Indian", has an accent that to all but the English upper classes sounds like a put-down, has black skin over white identity, and so is accepted by no-one. Except the rather idealistic - perhaps naive - Daphne Manners, that is. And by the way, if you are not English, you need to know that in Britain a public school refers to a wholly private, privileged institution. Have we changed at all?

Daphne and Hari become friends. But where can they meet? Clubs, restaurants and even workplaces enforce racial segregation. Even Lady Chatterjee, widow of Sir Nello, knighted by the English king, and with whom Daphne lodges, cannot get into such places, so Hari has no chance. But if Daphne goes local, she incurs the wrath and ridicule of her class and race-conscious compatriots who see their own status threatened if questioned. Add to that the complication of timing, since the couple's romance coincides with the 1942 Quit India campaign and the arrest and imprisonment without trial of Congress leaders and then protest riots.

The real strength of The Jewel In The Crown, however, is Paul Scott's insistence that we should see events from different perspectives. Not only do we hear Hari's and Daphne's account, but we also have the voice of the military, that of the civil administration and that of an Indian activist. But it is always from outside, sometimes from afar, that we are presented with the attitudes and actions of the policeman, Ronald Merrick. It is his actions that are crucial to the book's success. He is no upper class military type, no public schoolboy. He is an ambitious, self-made man with competence and a desire for achievement as his badge. He potentially is meritocracy personified.

And so through the lives and actions of these characters, against a backdrop of war and colonial turmoil, Paul Scott creates a rich tapestry of comment on social class, ethnicity and politics. It is a truly remarkable book and its observations, despite the unfamiliarity of the language to contemporary readers, are still relevant in today's Britain, but are perhaps no more than an historical relic in today' s India.

Philip Spires Author of Mission and A Fool's Knot, African novels set in Kenya Migwani is a small town in Kitui District, eastern Kenya. My books examine how social and economic change impact on the lives of ordinary people. They portray characters whose identity is bound up with their home area, but whose futures are determined by the globalised world in which they live.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Social Class



















Finding and collecting vintage comic books for fun and profit is something that is interesting, but can be difficult. With so many places to look, narrowing down the options can be painstaking, until

By: Jorge Orduna l Book Reviews > Comics Humor l July 07, 2012 lViews: 285

Action packed story that reads like you are there in person. Lieutenant Commander Andrew Carlson was a U.S. Navy Seal. He was as rough and tough as they come. He was part of a mission to be inserted

By: Cy Hilterman l Book Reviews > Mysteries Thrillers l July 06, 2012 lViews: 278

"Look Me In The Eye, If You Dare!" Okay, all of You "Internet Millionaire Moguls," I want some answers, and I want them now.

By: Travis L Perkins l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 309

Crush it is a great "How to" book on using social media and being real with yourself on what you do. Gary is very passionate about what he does. The key to his success is blending who he is with what

By: Joe Mosed l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 546

My resolution this year was to knuckle down and do something to bring in some new clients for my practice, so I was pleased to see that Internet Marketing Bible for Accountants looked like it might

By: Karen K Jefferson l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 295

When promoting your business online, are you using internet marketing? If you have yet to spread your branches into the online world, you ought to consider doing so.

By: Joyce McNeill Christopher l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 281

Moving to the second book for the "Shades of Gray" trilogy, we find things changing as a love-struck Anastasia Steele tries to forget her Christian by taking a job nearly 3,500 miles across the

By: Roberto Sedyciasl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 13, 2012 lViews: 215

If the name E.L. James is not high on your list of authors as the seasons are about to change by the time you reach the end of the season, you will. James has written the "Shades of Gray" trilogy.

By: Roberto Sedyciasl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 12, 2012 lViews: 231

Nora is going through a very difficult time in her life. Until now, she had everything she could ever want. Her world starts to fall apart when she discovers her husband is having an affair.

By: Nancy Eatonl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 12, 2012 lViews: 218

In her novel The Seven Sisters Margaret Drabble presents seven women out of the billions that populate their heavens, seven women who come together to act on a project, to share experience and build

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 08, 2012 lViews: 223

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist), returns with her 19th fiction book, "The Beginner's Goodbye." Tyler has a talent for portraying ordinary lives with humor and

By: Timothy Zaunl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 07, 2012 lViews: 265

"The Prodigal Housekeeper" by Don Michael is one of the most surprising metaphysical novels of recent years. Filled with surprises, quirky characters, and a look into the supernatural world, this

By: Tyler Tichelaarl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 06, 2012 lViews: 206

In her novel The Seven Sisters Margaret Drabble presents seven women out of the billions that populate their heavens, seven women who come together to act on a project, to share experience and build

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Fictionl June 08, 2012 lViews: 223

Winter In Madrid is a novel set just after Spain's Civil War. Its secret agent plot and thriller style engage the reader, but author C J Sansom also maintains a clear and sensitive political

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Fictionl May 29, 2012 lViews: 193

In terms of setting, Po-on is the start of the Rosales novels, the books that chart Philippine history from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. A peasant Ilocano family finds

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Fictionl May 28, 2012 lViews: 252

Anyone who has not yet visited Barcelona, the Catalan capital, will find Rainer Zerbst's book, Antoni Gaudi could provide the stimulus to make the visit at the first available opportunity. This

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Arts Photographyl April 24, 2012 lViews: 199

The Whole Day Through by Patrick Gale is an extremely well written love story. His characters ooze an under-stated middle class confidence, They elegantly populate a story, but their passions are so

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Romancel April 21, 2012 lViews: 155

BBC correspondent John Simpson presents a set of observations and anecdotes drawn from a near lifetime of reporting for television news in A Mad World, My Masters. He covers much of recent history,

By: Philip Spiresl Book Reviews > Current Affairsl April 18, 2012 lViews: 194