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Cultural Identity in a House for Mr.Biswas

Author QinQiongFang
Tutor ZhangShuNing
School Guangxi Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords V.S.Naipaul cultural identity independence
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
Downloads 260
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Writers who care about the human being have been given the Nobel Prize in the recent years. As a famous writer in contemporary postcolonial literature, V.S.Naipaul was given the Nobel Prize in 2001. He is a typical immigrant writer, and he has a complicated connection with Trinidad in Western Indians, India in Asia and England in Europe. His native land is India, and he was born in Trinidad, living and writing in England and growing up with the influence of the three cultures. This complex background leads to the uncertainty of his cultural identity and the crisis of cultural identification, thus he is called a“rootless writer”or“rootless man”. It is impossible for a man to have no cultural root in a civilized society, for that everyone is an existence in a certain cultural soil. So it is necessary to analyze the constructing state of Naipaul’s cultural identity objectively, which makes his works more understandable.Naipaul has published more than 30 works in 50 years. He writes his life, travel and thought in postcolonial homestead in the autobiographical way. In one of his representative works, A House for Mr. Biswas, a colonial’s quest for identity and individuality is concentrated. In this book, the author tells a tragicomic story of a colonial Brahmin Indian living in Trinidad. With all of his life, he is in search of his independence, freedom and identity. Unfortunately he was doomed to be unlucky, what he wants is a house of his own, which is the solid basis of his existence. That is also V.S.Naipaul’s pursuit of his own cultural identity. In his works, V.S.Naipaul manages to find an appropriate style to describe colonial and post-colonial societies. With a pain manner and refined structure, his writings are affecting and charming.This paper will analyze his cultural identity conception in his masterpiece A House for Mr.Biswas with postcolonial cultural theory. This paper consists of five chapters. Chapter I gives a brief introduction to the author of A House for Mr.Biswas and his writing, some literature review about this genre and the significance of the study. Chapter II discusses the postcolonial cultural theory,as one of reading strategies, and some points of the most vocal expounders of postcolonial theories ---Said and Hommi Bhabha. Chapter III goes to the target---“house”, which is an everlasting symbol for independent identity, in some famous literary works, from the Garden of Eden to Paradise Lost (1665) and Paradise Regained (1666), from Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) to A Room of One’s Own (1929); and the“house”mentioned in A House for Mr.Biswas also represents the pursuit for identity in this novel. Chapter IV illustrates some words about cultural identity, an endless and hopeless searching. Citing one line of Kipling’s poem, the author begins to discuss one question: shall East and West meet? And for V.S.Naipaul, a temporary solution to seek for his own cultural identity is to be a world citizen. Chapter V works as a conclusion.Finally, cultural identity is a central theme in post-colonial theory. How to search for one’s cultural identity and overcome some postcolonial problems are still remained unsolved according to the conception of V.S.Naipaul in A House for Mr.Biswas, their efforts are mostly doomed to failure. But the behavior is the primary and the most important.

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