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Even though Sir V. S. Naipaul – a Nobel Laureate –, lives outside India (U.K.), having citizenship of United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago (not of India), has visited India only for few times till today, literary world considers him as a part of India also – an inseparable one. And that is because of his Indian ancestral connection. Sometimes controversies are enough to introduce a person to the world, the same is with Naipaul. Because of his trio on India, he is bitterly condemned among Indian patriotics. But apart from the trio, he is highly appreciated for his fiction. In his both the novels – Half a Life and Magic Seeds – Naipaul has narrated the expedition of existence of the protagonist – Willie Somerset Chandran, a migrant, a diaspora. Willie, though a high caste Hindu, has born as a hybrid child as his mother is a down caste woman. His childhood forms a remarkable destiny for him which results in a gradual resentful realization of the otherness in his own existence that the life that he lives is not his and then in a deep contemplation about his past, in the end of both the novels respectively.

Sigmund Freud has said that “The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” This statement by Freud explains that the entirety can be achieved by and after exploring the hidden, catching the concealed, uncovering the covered and the apparent has the least authenticity. The way a person can perceive his/her view in a mirror and catch the truth of his/her physicality, more easily then looking at himself directly, in the same way his/her true psyche also can be recorded in his/her behavior – though it is hidden in the skull – which is essential to understand his/her existence, in totality. This act of realization can be more explicable as well as graspable if its illustrations are given. And Literature plays a very significant role to give instances of human psyche and its functions. This perspective of pursuing and demonstrating a piece of literature is called Psychological approach, also known as psychoanalytical analysis.
Generally speaking, Psychoanalysis is an ‘analysis’ of human ‘psyche’ or ‘psychology’. As social analysis/criticism tends to find the reasons of the worst conditions and predicaments of the social structures, it can be a helpful tool for the proposed research. Social psychology is also a field of psychology that scientifically investigates the people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior which are generally influenced and also affected by the presence of others (society): physically as well as in a person’s mind. Psychoanalytical approach/psychoanalysis is also a field, in a way, of the study of finding reasons of the present facts by analyzing a person’s childhood, past experiences and conscious and unconscious mind. All the three fields will help for the proposed rereading of the novels as it intends an analysis of 'socio-psychological' issues in literature.
The term ‘Diaspora’ is derived from Greek word diaspeirein means ‘disperse’. The word consists a prefix ‘dia’ which means ‘across’ and ‘speirein’ means ‘scatter’, ‘dispersal’, or ‘sow’. The word is used especially for widely scattered dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel, their Holy Land. The Jewish Diaspora began in the 6th century BCE, when the ancient kingdom of Judah was conquered by Babylon. They destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and banished a large proportion of then native population to Babylon, as recorded in the Bible. Since then, a remarkable number of Jews live as Diaspora in different parts on the globe and they still crave for returning back to their Promised Land.
In general, Diaspora is simply the displacement of people, community or culture from their original native homeland to another geographical and cultural region. The reason for these migrations have been inconsistent and many. This state of being a diaspora brings some perticular qualities in such people like Uprooting and Re-rooting, Feeling of Nowhereness, Identity Crisis and Elements of Nostalgia and ‘Imaginary Homelands’ that demand psychological interpretations through analysis because all these aspects draw our attention towards the very existence of a body-brain system – a human being.
The proposed paper intends to examine the Diasporic issues discussed by V. S. Naipaul in his two novels which are prequel-sequel to each other – Half a Life and Magic Seeds. The novel Half a Life opens with an Indian small boy’s- Willie Somerset Chandran- question to his father about the reason for keeping his middle name ‘Somerset’. Here he comes to know that once his father met the great writer Somerset Maugham when the writer visited India in search of material of his spiritual novel. Thus the name of the main character is not Indian, in spite of his Indian origin, but influenced by the writer of British origin. At the time of colonialism, it was the craze of colonized people to anglicize themselves which is visible even today. As the story grows, Willie becomes conscious about his ‘caste hybridity’ that exists because of his Brahmin father and low caste mother. In any way he has no single identity and that creates dilemma for him – dilemma of belonging. At mission school, after realizing its position in state as of a high rank, he began to look at his mother from more and more distance. The more successful he became at school the greater that distance grew. And because of the influence of his Canadian teachers, he began to long to go to Canada. His aspirations were reflected in the story he wrote as a composition which his father strongly disliked. He began to despise his father like anything started considering him as fraud and coward. If in such an early age a child forms such not for parents, they lose strong sense of belonging in his/her parents. Now what a Diasporic psychology is will be reflected in the following points.

  • Disappointments:

And finally, Willie Chandran, at the age of twenty, with an incomplete education, with no idea of what he wanted to do, with a little knowledge of the world outside, with only the fantasies of the Hollywood films of the thirties and forties that he had seen at the mission school, went to London. He had made great expectations for the city. The city was not anything less than ‘a fairyland of splendor and dazzle’ but as he started to move around and in the city streets, he felt let down. As he reached the Buckingham Palace and Speaker’s Corner, he felt that the kings and queens, palaces and places of England were 'imposters’ and fake. Thus soon after his reaching, the sunny picture of London becomes cloudy. At every time in the novel from his visit to Africa and to Sarojini’s place in Berlin and after joining the Guerrilla and even in jail in India, he feels dull instead of his colourful imaginations. Every time he kicks his legs and throw his arms in space in order to get rid of situatios. “Things conceived in grand and lofty manner becomes coarse and immaterial with the passage of time.” - this line of Doctor Zhivago became fact in Willie’s life.

  • No Sense of Belonging identity crisis:

After that started a sense of separation as he was unable to uproot himself from Indian mentality and kept on contemplating. Throughout the whole story he kept on feeling a distance from the people and surrounding whether it is the journalist at Fleet Street, his friend Percy Cato at college, Percy’s girlfriend June, Richard, Roger and his girlfriend Perdita in London. He couldn’t accept Ana’s life as his own and all the eighteen years he had done no fruitful activity on his own and kept on running away from his responsibility thinking himself outsider as he did in England also. He said, “I have been hiding for too long.” And he went to Berlin where also he felt like an outsider. At Indian guerrilla also he couldn’t be one with protesters and the activity. Willie had confronted identity crisis, even in India, from his childhood because of his caste-hybridity. when he was in India he wanted to go abroad, at London he was ‘a student from India’, when he was in Africa he was ‘Ana’s London Man’, At Berlin, he was simply a guest of Sarojini and after coming back to India, among revolutionaries, he was known as ‘a man came from Africa’, then in the jail, he was considered as a ‘political’ and kept in a special cell with other politicals.

  • Feeling of Nostalgia and Homesickness:

Though Willie neither longs for going back to his family and countey nor he ever miss his society, throughout the whole narrative, he seems as swinging like pendulum between past and present countries: when he went to England, he was comparing England with India; when he moved forward to Africa, he used to remember his days in England; in Berlin he had told the whole story of his life in Africa to Sarojini so relived his past again, then after returning to India, he reminded of his days in all three countries and again after going England he, in order to evaluate his life again recall all the incidents of his life. As Willie constantly observes and evaluates his self and psyche and surrounding, he is always seemed involved in the act of thinking, comparing, and contrasting.

  • Cultural Differences:

When Willie lived in India, he was surrounded by his own family members, people who knew him from his birth. He saw, in these years, strong ideal principles – principles of honesty, monogamy, love for hardships, simple living, Gandhian way of life, adjustment with materialistic things and entertainment – ethics and also strict implementation of them. But when he migrated to England for the first time he felt as if he had relieved from the chains. But at the same time he also found many cultural differences and got surprised and also shocked by them. At the college, the traditions about dress and behavior and wearing gowns on formal occasions seemed unjustifiable to him. He underestimated Percy Cato’s craze for coloring clothes as something belongs to low-caste people because of his own caste consciousness. He was very surprised, shocked, and exited after knowing the prevailing concepts of love and sex and relationships in London and also freedom of expression the ladies have there. He never fully understands it, gets confused and also experiences betrayal and for that he held because of his Indian upbringing that he can’t understand the ways of the world. Behind Willie’s decision of leaving Africa also one reason was this cultural difference. Throughout all those eighteen years, he couldn’t establish himself in African culture and perhaps somewhere his own cultural influence was barrier to this discomfort.

  • Migration:

Migration includes physical shift of the people. The crux of the concept of Diaspora is the geographical migration of people. Here in the novel, Willie moves/migrates for five times.

  • First to England after twenty years of his life in India.

  • After two year as a student in England he went Africa, to a Portuguese colony, with his then would be wife Ana.

  • After staying in Africa, without involving himself in any particular occupation for eighteen years, he moved to Berlin for six months as simply a visitor. Here his visa couldn’t be extended. He had to leave the place.

  • So from Berlin he went India, stayed there for eight years, joined revolutionary movement, went jail.

  • And at the end once again, to save him from the life of a prisoner, he was sent to England. As Willie migrates for five times and in that also three times to all together new countries, the conflicts and struggle also multiplies.

Because of these many migrations, a person’s psyche will definitely be disturbed.

On the whole, behind and through his each and every step, feelings, beliefs, mentality and situation, his bringing up, his family, all the events in his childhood, his thinking frame created by all these aspects are responsible. He keeps on brooding in the past and thinks about future but he never remains satisfied with his present. His true psyche is revealed in his thinking pattern and monologues of contemplations.


  1. French, Patrick, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul, Random House, 2008

  2. Nair, Pramod K. Postcolonial Literature: An Introdoction. Pearson Publication.

  3. Bromley ,Roger. Narratives for a new belonging: Diasporic Fictions.

  4. Umarsharif Shaikh Naushad. “Diasporic Writing: A view” from

  5. Naipaul, V. S.. Half a Life. Picador, p.39

  6. Naipaul, V. S.. Magic Seeds, Picador, 2004 p.39



  9. McLeod, Saul. “Psychoanalysis” from

साकेत काव्य में नारी के प्रति आदर - भावना

राधा कुमारी गोकुलराम मीणा

व्याख्यता-हिन्दी- गांधीधाम



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