V. S. Naipaul One of my contributions to our V. S. Naipaul presentation was the explanation of Naipaul’s past and how it impacted the writing he would later produce. This is significant, as the themes of alienation, deprivation and colonialism found in One Out of Many stem from his early life in Trinidad, his relationships and his travels abroad. Naipaul felt estranged in his native Trinidad, as he abandoned the Hindu beliefs of his ancestors for agnosticism.
Additionally, Naipaul found himself frustrated with the economic, political and social characteristics of his homeland. This led him to seek an escape via scholarship to Oxford in 1950. After completing his degree, he took to traveling around the world to gather writing material. Naipaul’s extensive travels have given his work a theme of colonialism, as the wide range of affects the British Empire had on its colonies are often displayed. His lack of a consistent home base is why he frequently writes from an outsider’s perspective.
This can be seen very clearly in One Out of Many, as Santosh is cast into a society that drastically contrasts the one he had at home in Bombay. This situation is reminiscent of Naipaul’s departure from Trinidad to England, as there is no doubt that the society he left differed substantially from the one he arrived in. Santosh experiences prejudice and humiliation frequently throughout the story and it is not unlikely that these instances were inspired by similar harassment Naipaul endured on his travels.
In addition to explaining Naipaul’s basic background information, I also explored his personal relationships. Our sources revealed that Naipaul has made several controversial statements in the past about a range of topics including female writers, the religion of Islam and the “Hubshi” or people of African descent. Our sources also indicated that Naipaul has been involved in abusive affairs with women and tends to feel that he is superior to the ones he has married.
These views manifested in One Out of Many, as Santosh makes comments that are somewhat racist and sexist. He does not even provide the name of the woman he is romantically involved with, only referring to her as the “hubshi woman” or maid. Lacking this biographical information, readers would be left to guess what inspired Naipaul’s works and would be deprived of a deeper understanding of One Out of Many. Readers would also be left with a much more negative image of Naipaul, instead of recognizing the cultural differences he is characterized by.