Mr. Biswas’s Displacement in Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas

Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas records the character of Mr. Biswas as an embodiment of displacement. His displacement is not a phenomenon that he is responsible for rather it is historically endowed on him. his forefather migrated to Trinidad from India and settled down there. As a descendent of the Indian Hindu diaspora, Mr. Biswas had to embrace the reality of displacement which can be marked considering his subalternity, conflicting self, failure to get related to others, and above all, his in-born diasporic agony.

Mr. Biswas’s subalternity and displacement

Considering Mr. Biswas’s family history, it can be argued that he belonged to a family of the Indian subalterns living in the suburb of Trinidad. His father Raghu was very miser and did not give enough money to his mother Bipti to run the family. He grew up in an impoverished family in which his mother had to fight for fulfilling the family demands. Her leaving her husband’s house while carrying Mr. Biswas in her womb proved the intensity of her quarrel with her husband which proved the subalternity of the family members. It is arguable that Mr. Biswas could never come out of the affliction of this subaltern identity throughout his whole life. He tried his best to change his lot but failed again and again. This failure clearly offered him a psychological displacement.

Conflicting self and Mr. Biswas’s displacement

Analysis of Mr. Biswas’s self undoubtedly proves that he inherited a conflicting self. His father met a very pathetic death for which he was responsible. After losing Dhari’s calf, he hid under his father’s cot which created the commotion among his family members that he was drowned in the nearby pond. The family members came to this conclusion taking the pundit’s prophecy into consideration that water might be a life threat for the boy. So, his father went down the water again and again and died of exhaustion. It can be said that his father’s death affected him psychologically and offered him an irreparable conflicting self. Therefore, he could not manage to make up this psychological breach in his later life and eventually, got displaced psychologically.

Problematic relationship and Mr. Biswas’s displacement

Throughout his whole life, Mr. Biswas wanted to create a substantial relationship with others but he failed to do it. He, first of all, tried to do it with his family members. He failed to do it because of his impoverished condition. As a result, he was compelled to get separated from them. Later, when he had his own family, he wanted to build up a good relationship with his wife Shama but the social and financial differences barred him from establishing it. After that, the Tulsi family members can be taken into consideration. He wanted to come to a good term with them but his psychologically shaped self did not allow him to do so. Finally, he failed to create a substantially defined relation with his children. It is marked in his son Anand’s few responses after going to England for higher studies.

Mr. Biswas’s in-born diaspora and his displacement

Mr. Biswas, as the descendant of the Indian diaspora in Trinidad, shared its legacy very prominently in his life. It should be mentioned here that the diasporic tension was not very well-rooted in him, but its shared legacy created an unbridgeable situation for him in getting affiliated with everything that he faced in his life. For this innate diasporic existence in his life, he was never able to reach his goals. It worked as a psychological barrier in his life to get assimilated with the realities of life.

Abdur Rahim
Abdur Rahim

Assistant Professor, and Member of the Proctorial Body
Department of English Language and Literature (DELL), Premier University, Chattogram,
& Doctoral Fellow, English Department, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka.

Phone: +8801715638298


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