A House for Mr. Biswas: A Typical Caribbean Novel
A number of indentured labourers of sugar estate migrated from India to the Caribbean islands long ago The families of those indentured labourers formed a community there. The protagonist of V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas belongs to one of such families migrated to Trinidad Raghu, the father of Mr. Biswas, was a labourer of the sugar estate and lived with his family in the village called Parrot Trace He used to line up with other labourers outside the estate office every Saturday to collect his pay for the overseer. Their precarious situation in Trinidad, along with their rootless condition, is presented in the following manner “They continually talked of going back to India, but when the opportunity came, many refused, afraid of the unknown, afraid to leave the familiar temporariness.”
Apart from the aforementioned emigrants, there are converts and missionaries in the Caribbean society. The teacher of Canadian Mission School named Lal, who taught Mr Biswas at school had been converted to Presbyterianism from a low Hindu caste. The novelist refers to the Aryans, the protestant Hindu missionaries like Pankaj Rai, who preached against the orthodox doctrines of Hinduism Mr. Biswas took a keen interest in the affairs of those missionaries in order to revolt against the orthodox Tulsi Family .
Readers come across a typical Caribbean society of various races in A House for Mr. Biswas. The following description of the experience of Mr Biswas in the House of his sister, Dehuti, at Port of Spain, highlights a typical Caribbean society “But at night Gruff, intimate whispers came through the partitions, reminding Mr Biswas that he lived in a crowded city The other tenants were all Negroes” Moreover, the female attendant of Hanuman House was a Negro woman named Miss Blackie and there was a the café of a Chinese woman named Mrs. Seeing at Arwacas, where Mr Biswas used to. go for salmon The society of diverse races presented in the novel includes the Muslim solicitor named IZ Ghani, who had issued birth certificates to Mr Biswas, the Presbyterian family of Dorothy, Mrs. Tulsi’s daughter in law and the Jewish refugee doctor of Mis Tulsi.
Interracial marriages and acculturation are commonly found in Caribbean novels Interracial marriages occurred in the case of brothers in law of Mr. Biswas. Shekhar, the elder of Sharma’s two brothers, was married to the Presbyterian woman named Dorothy under the compulsion of circumstances. The novelist depicts in the following manner the circumstances of Shekhar’s marriage and subsequent outcome of it “And at last, in a laxly Presbyterian family with one filling station, two lorries, a cinema and some land, they found a girl Each side patronized the other and neither suspected it was being patronized, after smooth and swift negotiations the marriage took place in a registry office, and the elder god, contrary to Hindu custom and the traditions of his family, did not bring his bride home, but left Hanuman House for good, no longer talking of suicide, to look after the lorries, cinema, land and filling station of this wife’s family” Here the novelist also hints at acculturation and there are several instances of it in the novel Like Shekhar, his younger brother Owad, also married the woman of another religion as his wife was Dorothy’s cousin As far as acculturation is concerned, it is found in case of Shekhar. Shekhar used to sear crucifix, the symbol of Christianity, and sacred thread and beads, the symbol of Hinduism. The following reference to one of the sisters in law of Mr Biswas and her family present another instance of acculturation “A son-in law who lived away died, and his brood came to Hanuman House, where they were distinguished and made glamorous by their mourning clothes of black, white and mauve The Christian custom did not please everyone”.