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`Miguel Street' is a novel by V.S Naipaul that represents a series of experiences by an unnamed narrator. The book is set in Miguel Street, Trinidad, in western Port of Spain. The book contain a number of different individual characters who are used by the author to bring into light his intended message to the readers and in development of themes. Some of the common characters in the include Mr. Popo who is a carpenter, the poet B. Wordsworth and Man-man who becomes a prophet. All through the book, the author presents great ambitions by his authors that are never accomplished. The narrator also constitutes a group of kids from the street who are involved in various adventures in the street surrounding aimlessly with no concern for their future lives. The author has used different stories in the book to highlight the plight of women in poor society that is dominated by men.
The book is an enjoyable, entertaining and simple to read. The author of the book uses simple English that is easily understood by readers who are not first English speakers. This has enabled readers from Spain where the book is set to understand its contents. The book is divided into seventeen separate chapters with each chapter covering a different story about the fate of women in Miguel Street. Although this kind of structure makes the book to appear broader, it has enabled the author to develop deferent themes about women without complexity. These themes are unified by use of a common unnamed author who narrates events about different character from one story to another. This enables readers to understand the flow of events from one chapter to another. Use of different stories in the novel makes the book more interested to the readers since the monotony in reading one continuous story is broken as one shifts from one story to another.
The setting of the book is also in cohesion with the themes addressed in the by the author. The book is set in Miguel street in Trinidad one of the towns in western Spain. The street is a slum where living standards are poor due to poverty, high population, lack of employment and income by the residents. The fact that Naipaul intended to address issues facing women before and during the Second World War makes his choice of setting a suitable one. Spain was one of the countries affected by war and people were busy working hard to shape their lives. Slums were mostly affected and Miguel Street was a good choice of a setting to present such experiences. This choice of a really place for the setting of the novel makes the story more factual and themes are believed to represent the actual life of people and events in that region. This makes the book to be more logical to readers as they read more to familiarize with what happened in Trinidad during the First World War two.
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Style of narration is also important in literary writings. Miguel Street is written in first person narration style whereby an unnamed young character describes what is happening to different characters through out the book. Naipaul decided to use an imaginary narrator in order to avoid a state of biasness in his stories. This was a good style because when a really narrator is used in a novel, most readers feel that he/she could be biased in his narration. Use of first person narration also makes the novel more understandable. Readers of the novel are able to capture the actual picture of the kind of life women of Miguel Street went through. This has made it easier for beginners, especially the juniors and non first English speakers, to understand the book without referring to guides and reviews by advanced readers. The narrator is able bring harmony between different chapters and stories in the book.
The book is more of a comedy that is in form of short stories than a single continuous story. This style of writing has enabled the author to bring serious and sensitive issues in Trinidad in a humorous manner in order to avoid creation of tension among the readers. The book consists of comic characters that leave the readers smiling regardless of the weight of the matter addressed. This is clearly illustrated in the book by the use of characters such as Mr. Popo, a carpenter who never finishes making anything and is always working on one thing without a name. Poet Wordsworth is a character in the novel that creates a lot of humor through his peculiar behavior. He is working of the greatest poem ever written but the funny thing is that he has never written past the first line. The book is rich in symbols and imagery that are used by the author to pass on the intended message to the readers. This has enabled the author to politely address sensitive issues for only his targeted readers to understand. He was also able to highlight position of a woman in Miguel Street using these literary skills.
Masculinity and Femininity is one of the core themes in this book. The author wanted to bring into light the plight of women in Spain before and during the First World War. He was able to develop this theme by concentrating on the women of Miguel throughout the book. Masculinity is refers to having qualities regarded as characteristic of men and boys while femininity is refers to having qualities regarded as characteristics of women and girls. The society of Miguel Street does not believe in femininity. This notion has affected women of Miguel whereby they too behave like men and compete for responsibilities that were believed to be for men. The author has used examples of manliness in 12 stories in the book to show the position of women in Miguel Street.
The first chapters of the book present women as only tools to be used by men for their own satisfaction. Popo the carpenter does not earn any money and he relies on her hardworking wife for survival since they have no children. When she leaves, Popo is unable to meet his expenses hence becoming violent and a thief. Men have no respect for women and they associate anything bad with women. Morgan who has 10 children with his wife is not ashamed to sleeping with another woman a situation that creates drama in whole neighborhood after he is caught by his wife. Women have no recognition in Miguel Street. They are only known as someone's wife. By using really happenings in his book, the author is able to relate his fictitious character to what really happened in Trinidad in order to make stories sound more accurate. Women of Miguel are able to fight for their position in the society by objecting being exploited by men. Popo's wife leaves her irresponsible husband and Mrs. Morgan beats her husband for sleeping with another woman. This proves that women of Miguel Street were not weak as it was believe by the society and they also fit for positions and actions that were believed to be manly.
Generally, the book is addressing life challenges in Trinidad town with more attention on Miguel Street. The author wanted to bring into life how life in slums especially before and during the world war two was in some of the Europeans countries. Poverty and other social evils was a common scenario amongst the poor. Men neglected their responsibilities and they relied on efforts made by their wives for survival. Women of Miguel represent a true picture of the experiences that women went through before and during the Second World War. These were sensitive issues that could be addressed openly to avoid incitement. However, Naipaul was able to use his prowess in writing to address these challenges by use of symbols, imagery and comic phrase in the book. He even went farther to illustrate how women could liberate themselves using the women of Miguel Street as an example. This has made the book famous among the modern readers especially those involved in women empowerment programs.
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