Premchand s Karmabhumi is set in the Uttar Pradesh of the 1930s. By the beginning of the 20th century, Islam and Hinduism had coexisted in India for over a thousand years, and barring the occasional outbursts of violence, the two religious communities had lived together peacefully and shared strong social bonds except marriage. English education, however, drove a wedge between these two communities. India of the early 1930s consisted of a great mass of poor and illiterate people whowere exploited by the rich and powerful, irrespective of eithers caste or religion. The author s sympathy for these poor and toiling masses are clearly reflected in his writings. It is against this backdrop that Premchand wrote Karmabhumi. Being greatly influenced by Gandhiji s satyagraha movement, Premchand weaves this novel around the social goals championed by this movement. Human life is portrayed as a field of action in which the character and destinies of individuals are formed and revealed t hrough their actions. Some of these actions, which might seem melodramatic in ordinary realistic fiction, gain resonance in Karmabhumi, placed as they are within this symbolic and philosophical framework. Each character (or group) is depicted as coming to a point of moral awakening where he, she, or they must act on their convictions. The climax of the novel takes place in an assembly of the poor and dispossessed, where they voice their demand for land. The youngest of the speakers isput to death by a policeman s bullet but this incident eventually leads to victory of the cause of land for the poor.
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