The Caste System in India in City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre

The caste system in India is a very complex and difficult thing to understand. India’s caste system is one of the oldest caste systems to exist. This system is believed to be more than 3,000 years old. This system divides people into four different groups: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and the Shudras. This system also separates the untouchables into a different group, the Dalits.

The Dalits are the lowest people in India. These people have jobs that are considered the lowest a person can have.

A modern-day example of these jobs would be janitors. The Shudras are the people working unskilled jobs. These people are usually uneducated and are working mostly in manual labor such as warehousing or construction. Shudras are considered lower class but are still viewed as better than the Dalits.

The Vaishyas are very similar to the Shudras but unlike the Shudras, the Vaishyas can be educated and tend to work as traders and merchants. They are considered businessmen and are therefore a step higher than the Shudras.

The Kshatriyas are the most powerful economic people but are still not the highest rank in the Indian caste system. The Kshatriyas are rulers and kings and are usually very wealthy.

The Brahmins is the highest rank. These are the priests and teachers. These are the most influential people in India. The Brahmins are greatly respected. “The City of Joy” by Dominique Lapierre follows Hazari Pal, a father of three, and Max Lowe, an American doctor. Hazari is an Indian man who moves to Calcutta in search for work after his farm is taken from him after not being able to pay back his loan.

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Hazari and his family were Vaishyas but have been made into Shudras.

Hazari must also save up for his daughter’s dowry. A dowry is money, a good, or any sort of property that the bride must bring for her husband on their wedding day. Hazari struggles to find work and has no money saved for his daughter’s dowry. The caste system in India states that you will be in the same social class as your mother or father.

This is a very big problem for Amrita, Hazari’s daughter, because she is now a Shudras. Hazari cannot find anyone that will allow their son to marry Amrita due to their social class. Hazari is now a rickshaw puller and is very poor. People believe that he does not have anything to offer if they allow their son to marry Amrita. If Hazari were rich and had a good job, anyone would accept Amrita’s hand in marriage.

If Hazari continues to work as a rickshaw puller, his sons may also have a difficult life. His sons, Manooj and Shambhu, may never get a proper education and, in turn, never get a good paying job. The caste system in India is very poorly designed to prevent people in lower classes such as the Shudras from rising in the social ranks. This system is very unfair and dictates a person’s life before they are even born. If Manooj or Shambhu never get proper education, they may doom their children to a poor life.

There are three occurrences of groups clashing with each other that are very significant to me. The first is the clash between the godfather and his family and the city of joy. The second is the clash between the city and the lepers. Finally, the third clash is between the city and Max Lowe. The clash between the city and the godfather is a perfect depiction of the caste system in India. The godfather is a rich man that is looking down at the people living in the city. He uses his money and power to keep the people of the city of joy down and preventing them from rising in the class ranks by raising the rent. When Hazari beats Ashok Ghatak, the godfather’s son, the people are allowed to rise and operate the free clinic at its full potential.

The second clash between the city and the lepers is one that I found very interesting. The people in the city of joy are upset because Max would like to open the clinic to lepers too. Lepers are people who were outcast due to social reasons. The people rioted when the lepers were invited. I find it interesting that the city of joy is supposed to be some sort of sanctuary but the people will not let in the lepers.

The third clash between the city and Max is resolved but it took time to happen. When Max proposed the idea of standing up against the godfather, he was met with mostly hostility, even from Hazari. Max was relatively new to the city and at the time was still planning on leaving. The city people did not trust Max since he was a foreigner and had no real loyalty to the city. They believed that he would just leave as soon as the conflict started. Max eventually did gain their faith by proving his loyalty to them.

The Staine’s killing was a completely unnecessary and immature act that should never have happened. This tragedy only happened because of close-mindedness and ignorance. Graham Staines was an Australian missionary who arrived in Baripada in 1965. Staines worked in a hospital for many years and had been planning on visiting a tribe to help them with health issues and to spread the word of god. Staines was met with a fiery death for him and his two sons.

Prior to Staines death, the country had been in a long conflict between the Christian converts and the Hindu tribes. The tribes were angry that the converts were changing many age- old traditions and sought retaliation. Dara Singh took it upon himself to bring justice to the Hindu religion and started attacking trucks with cattle being sent to a slaughter house.

There was a lot of tension between the two religions and this caused many problems for everyone. Some Christians refused to go to their hospitals due to the belief that they would be sterilized. Some Hindus would not drink the water because they thought that it had been poisoned. These accusations would cause so much tension that an attack, such as the one that Staines received, would be inevitable.

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The Caste System in India in City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre. (2023, May 16). Retrieved from

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