73 pages 2 hours read

Indra Sinha

Animal's People

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2007

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Themes

Humanity and Humanness

Animal’s People argues that differentiation exists between the true definition of “human” and society’s definition thereof. Animal believes his walking on four feet disqualifies him from humanity; throughout the novel, Animal holds that he calls himself “Animal” because it is “not just what I look like but what I feel” (87). He defines himself as an animal “because others […] treated me like one” (209). He consistently denies his humanness, beginning in Tape 3 when he tells Zafar, “I’m not a fucking human being” (23). He says “[t]he world of humans is meant to be viewed from eye level” (2), and that he himself “used to be human once” (1).

Just as Animal feels less-than-human because he is not easily accommodated by the “world of humans,” his people—the poor, the ill, the non-Western—are dehumanized in a world whose systems benefit the rich and powerful. Their humanness is denied by the Kampani and even by their own government, which, according to Nisha, is “supposed to protect us [but] manipulates the law against us” (284). The dehumanization of the people is exemplified in the discussion of “thighs-of-fate,” or Sodium Thiosulphate, in which Zafar reminds his friends that the Kampani, to conceal the knowledge “that the illnesses could pass to future generations” (112), had ordered the Chief Minister to stop the administering of the life-saving drug to the people, thus actively bringing about the people’s deaths to preserve their bottom line.

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