86 pages 2 hours read

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2020

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Part 5, Chapters 19-21

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5: “The Consequences of Caste”

Part 5, Chapter 19 Summary: “The Euphoria of Hate”

Wilkerson returns to Nazi Germany, describing a pro-Hitler rally that took place in 1940 to celebrate the German army’s recent successful invasion of France. The rally was recorded, so she recalls watching film footage, the noise of crowds, crying women. Wilkerson calls it “the worship service of true believers […] a million indistinguishable bees in a hive” (264). Watching the footage, Wilkerson notes that most in the crowd would have at least known about the horrors of the French invasion and the terror visited on German Jews during Kristallnacht, the state sanctioned violence against Jews and their businesses in 1938.

While most of us would deny that we are capable of participating in such events, Wilkerson notes that almost all those captured in films were likely part of families, and that the children captured on film at the rally are likely still alive. Like White Americans and upper caste Indians, the rally participants were gradually introduced to these ideas of inequality. Repairing such systems is not merely a matter of “rooting out despots” (267). Instead, there is a more difficult task required:

It is harder to focus on the danger of common will, the weaknesses of the human immune system, the ease with which the toxins can infect succeeding generations.

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