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The Tragedy of V.S Naipaul’s Miguel Street


miguel street
V.S.Naipaul Miguel street

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad (V.S. Naipaul) was born in Trinidad in 1932. His works have been an enduring focus between rich and poor, colonizer and colonized. In The New York Review of Books, Naipaul has been called ‘”a master of English prose,” which indicates his weight in modern literature, especially in post colonialism. The paper depicts a dark area and tragedy in Miguel Street throughout the characters and their dialogues. Naipaul is famous for his sad-given-tonic moment in his novels. The paper also provides examples and explanations behind the tragedy of the novel and what the characters suffer from: misunderstanding, poverty, or losing humanity that
no more communication works out. Miguel Street is a place where all the tragic moments happen in the novel. Each section of the story ends with sadness and disappointment.


Miguel Street (1959) is one of Naipaul’s outstanding novels and is a semi-autobiographical novel set in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The locations in the novel are of crucial importance—Trinidad and Tobago. Naipaul
deliberately chose these two islands which were under British rule until 1962 when they achieved independence. The novel consists of seventeen sections, and each deals with a different story, with a new title. The novel focuses on the main characters such as Hat, Popo, and the narrator, and their personal lives on Miguel Street. The story is about diversity of life, death, marriage and work on Miguel Street, and conveys a sense of comic-tragedy to the readers. It is told through the eyes of a young child narrator. Naipaul succinctly creates a realistic picture of these characters in the frame of colonization. Barnouw comments, “Critical readings of Naipaul’s work have
generally been divided into two groups: a strongly-focused post-colonialist critique of his indebtedness to
western cultural values that does not deal with the textual complexity, and literary studies of his fictional and non-fictional texts that do not deal with representational complexity, the text’s connectedness to social and political realities” (Mukherjee 212).
Naipaul’s writing is characterized by a gloomy tragic and dark weather which makes the readers focus on every single moment in his novels. In this paper, the focus is on the tragedy of the novel that Naipaul has established in his own style. There are a lot of sad and painful scenes that this paper touches on. Hedi observes, Beating is a recurring item in Naipaul’s fiction. Characters either beat or are beaten. What is interesting is that beating as a social phenomenon can tell us much about the society and its habits. Beating
becomes a ceremony, a ritual conducted at appropriate moments for appropriate purposes. In this ritual
there is an equilibrium between the protagonists. Those who beat do not find any resistance from those
who are beaten as they are usually either women or children. (Hedi 53) Miguel Street is a good novel to be studied for the essay and to analyse characters’ reaction towards family, friends and people around them. Naipaul has given a lot of examples that denote the tragic moment for everyone in the novel and the readers as well.

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