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Chapter 7: V S Naipaul Part II
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Discussion of A House for Mr. Biswas & The Mimic Man

Sourabh agarwal
Govt. College Lecturer, JRF-NET (2003) English Teaching literature and grammar since 2001 to undergraduates , postgraduates, Net aspirants a

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  3. A House for Mr Biswas (1961) The first major success of Naipaul, it is another comedy of manners sort of novel set in Trinidad. The novel is divided into a prologue, two parts with different chapters and an epilogue. The Prologue tells us that the protagonist, Mr. Biswas died of a disease in his house which he had bought against the wishes of his wife. But he was happy to take his last breath in his own property. .Born with 6 fingers and during a family feud, Mohun is considered an unlucky child by the pundit. Even his sneezing caused many accidents and he was to stay away from water bodies. One day Mohun takes a neighbour's calf and as he is lost in his first experience of seeing the river water flowing, the calf is drowned. Scared of punishment, Mohun hides himself. Searching for him and the calf, Mohun's father Raghu also is drowned This incident causes the Biswas family to fall apart; his sister is taken to their wealthy aunt and uncle, Tara and Ajodha. Mohun, along with his mother, Bipti and his brothers, go to live with other relatives.

  4. e Mohun starts his formal education at Pundit Jairam's school, but because of his behaviour he is soon shown the door. After his sister elopes, his distraught mother sends Mohun to live with Tara and Ajodha. However, his uncle Ajodha sends him to live with his brother Bhandat, a rum shop owner, who abuses him. Feeling insulted and hurt, Mohun decides to start his own work, and after meeting Alec begins to work as a sign painter. At the same time, he starts taking interest in reading and enjoys reading Samuel Smiles.

  5. During an assignment to paint for a store for the Tulsis, he comes in contact of Shama and becomes infatuated of her. He flirts with her playfully. However, his advances are taken as a wedding proposal by Shama's family and they are happy to marry Shama without worrying for dowry So quite reluctantly he marries Shama and becomes part of the Tulsi household, Hanuman house. e Mrs. Tulsi, a widow is the head of the household with 2 sons and 14 daughters. Most of her sons-in-laws live at the household employed in family's shops or fields. . Mohun is treated as a clown and is constantly in conflict with one member of the family or another.

  6. . As he finds himself under mounting debts, he accepts the position of a driver on one of the Tulsi sugar estates offered by Seth, Mrs. Tulsi's brother-in-law and manager of Tulsi affairs. Living in barracks with ii other families, Mr. Biswas is impatient to build a house, but he does not have sufficient money. Still he starts to build a house, though compromising with quality. . He becomes more and more anxious about his financial condition which escalates into his break down when a storm almost collapses his dream house. Consequently he returns to Hanuman House where his wife is about to give birth to their fourth child. After recuperating, he once again leaves the house in another attempt to build a house of his own.

  7. In the second part of the novel, Mr. Biswas goes to Port of Spain and finally begins to establish himself when he start working as as a journalist at The Sentinel He is invited to live at Tulsi estate in Shorthills but again due to Seth's falling out, once again there is financial crisis in Mohun's life as he builds another house for his family Once again this house is doomed as a fire almost brings it down and eventually, Mohun has to move along with his family to the Tulsi estate. With growing children, a change comes into Mohun's life when he is offered a job as a community Welfare Officer and also gets a car. However, because of a tussle between Owad, Mrs. Tulsi's son and Anand, Mohun's son, they have to move out of the house once again.

  8. Desperate, for a house, Mr. Biswas makes a purchase which once out turns to be a bad bargain as the new house has many problems. Incidentally, Mohun loses his job also and has to return to his job as a journo. He has acquired a great deal more debt but his source of income gets meagre. He eventually suffers a series of heart attacks and ultimately dies. . However he leaves behind a house that will shelter his family for as long as they live.

  9. The Mimic Men 1967 Having elements of both Fiction and non-fiction, Naipaul's most serious and poetic novel was written when he was a writer-in-residence at Uganda's Makerere University. The novel tells tale of Ranjit Kripal Singh, a 40-year-old man of Indian heritage born on the Caribbean island of Isabella in the 1920s. After his fall from government power in Isabella, Ranjit immigrates to the UK and start writing his memoirs in a hotel beginning with his university years. At university, Ranjit falls in love with a British woman and fellow student, Sandra. They both get married and return to Isabella where Ranjit has his parental business. Though financially successful, Ranjit is dissatisfied with his loveless marriage.

  10. . Ranjit then remembers his childhood days on Isabella where his father was a schoolteacher. His uncle, Cecil, an arrogant man, had an intense rivalry with his father. e He remembers a particular trip with his father when he witnessed poor black people living in utter poverty and his feeling of contempt for them . His friend Browne, however, is deeply affected by their condition and begin to advocate on behalf of the island's poor. This marks the end of their friendship. . His father quits his teaching job and becomes a spiritual leader and social activist and starts living in the forest with poor people.