V.S Naipaul's most famous and critically acclaimed novel presents the story of eponymous Mr. Biswas life and his dream to build his own house. The title itself gives this insight and from the prologue of the novel, we are told that he has been successful in owning his own home but with no ease but with a lifetime of difficulties. Moreover, after having a place to call his home, he dies after spending a little time in that house. We are told that he lived a harsh and uneasy life with the only refuge in his home and succeeds in making his kids educated. It is also said that the character of Mr. Biswas is inspired from Naipaul's father.
From his infancy or we can say, before his birth, it is predicted that his life would not be joyous and fortunate. An astrologer predicts that he will be an unlucky child and will become the cause of his parents fall and in a way, it's true as when he is nine years old, his father go looking after him after he doesn't return home. They know where they could find him, his father searches around a pond as it was earlier advised to Mr.Biswas to not loiter around water bodies because of pandit's words. Incidentally, his father dives into the pond to search him and drowned himself.
This ultimately leads to the eviction of Biswas and family from their home. At this tender age, Biswas has lost his father and his home. His mother too treats him badly and without love due to him being an omen of misfortune for the family. A subtle feeling of homesickness keeps inside his heart throughout his life. His unfair treatment by his mother and other members of the family begins his life with sorrow. The only time he gets respect from the family is in the festival days when he is properly fed and loved but in the normal days, he is at loss of any love and care.
This negligence does have some impact on his overall temperament as he develops the habit of complaining and his contention with depending on others and live in their abodes with their family. Even after his difficulty in his career and unprecedented marriage into a well-off family, his condition grows more worsen and his complaining nature conflicts with his wife, Shama. He now has to live in Hanuman house, a place for not only Tulsi family but also of the family's other sons-in-law. Here Biswas is surrounded by a number of sons-in-law who live with the Tulsi family and help run the estates of Tulsi household. This makes make discontent with this family where he has to live and work under his in-law's shadows. He finds his own identity in danger in such a life. He grumbles more and more in front of his wife. The Tulsi family too finds him absurd and problematic. He goes against the family many times like once he associates with Arya Samaj which doesn't work well with the conservative Tulsi family.
His discontentment grows stronger and evidently lead him to go one-on-one, even he gets into fights with his wife and rebukes her family. We can't blame his nature for we know his story from childhood and his adulthood doesn't go well with him. It seems sometimes that the fate is playing him against his joy and satisfaction. He, as an adult, wants to grow on his own but it isn't with the real world and particularly, his bad luck. His life is evidently full of struggle. But all his hopes rest on a house which is his own where he is not ordered by anyone like Tulsi members. In his thought, later when he has kids he wants them to give a house where he can care and keep an eye on them so they could be nurtured under his wings.
The Tulsi family soon understand his dilemma to able to "paddle his own canoe" and sends him away to manage another estate of theirs. But one or another problem occurs and he has to return back to the Hanuman house many times with his wife and kids. At one point, he grows content with Hanuman house as it has always offered him refuge in the times of need. But he doesn't back down of his dream to have his own home. He tries to build a small one but it doesn't work out for long and he goes back to Hanuman house. While his attempts carry one, he struggles to keep a job from being a sign painter to a manager of Tulsi household to a reporter to a Community Welfare Officer, he doesn't receive much success in any of them for long but in the end with his children's success in education and career, he manages to build a house to call his own. But to no avail, he suffers a cardiac arrest and dies the death of a hero who lived a tragic life, bearing the mar of fate and still fulfill his dream.
His life revolves around a want of an identity and warmth of a love, a home is a prerequisite for a dignified life. His story is presented in his attempts to create a home. So, we can say that the title "A House for Mr. Biswas" sums up the whole story of Biswas, how a house is the sole desire of him.
© 2019 Ethan