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Comment on the following extract, the opening of In a free state, a novel by V.S. Naipul (born 1932). In your response you should include a consideration of the writers use of language and his attitude towards the characters and the situation depicted.

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Introduction

Comment on the following extract, the opening of In a free state, a novel by V.S. Naipul (born 1932). In your response you should include a consideration of the writers use of language and his attitude towards the characters and the situation depicted. Though many of poets and authors are purged by a notion to do something about the world's dire conditions that they write about, they don't. They complain and rave about in their texts, bringing out the morbid atmosphere of the place, but they know that owe their inspiration to those very conditions; without them, the stimulation to narrate powerful texts such as the tramp at Piraeus could have never arisen. V.S. Naipaul illustrates his journey from Piraeus to Alexandria in a morose tone and gloomy language. Most texts written about a journey have elaborate details about its natural surroundings, but this extract indulges more into the 'dingy' steamer itself and its passengers. ...read more.

Middle

Such conditions would inevitably cause irritation, resulting in a moody barman and a moody steward. Naipaul seems to be painting a picture of characters with fragmented roots: they do not really belong anywhere. The passengers on the lower deck 'required only sleeping room' as they sheltered from the wind, 'humped figures in Mediterranean black among the winches and orange-coloured bulkheads'. The 'overgrown American school children' are 'subdued'; school children are usually described as being full of energy, rarely subdued. Being in a social culture which is almost alien to their own might cause the controlled behavior from the children. The tramp is the most obvious and alarming character with the lack of cultural ties. He 'seems' English, but only from afar. He claims to have traveled all around the world, but then he asks "But what's nationality these days? I myself, I think of myself as a citizen of the world", accentuating his lack of cultural roots. Naipaul explores the idea of appearance versus reality, especially through the tramp. ...read more.

Conclusion

He wisely chooses a Yugoslav who has never left his country before to listen to his tales, suggesting that the tramp has had much practice in choosing people who look nervous and who won't question his stories. He tells the Yugoslav about his journeys around the world, "I've been.....the Australians". The liability of what the tramp says is extremely questionable. He seems to be living out his fantasies through these illustrations, going to places that he has never been to through his imaginative conversation to the Yugoslav. Despite his convincing words, the tramp seems to remain unfulfilled; 'it was mechanical, without conviction, even the vanity made no impression; those quivering wet eyes remained distant'. The tramp seems almost lost, with no roots, and no where to go to. Naipaul explores the steamer through the overwhelming number of passengers that it carries. He seems to look at the people in a cynical way, bringing out the morbid feelings that the steamer invokes. The most memorable character in the extract is certainly the tramp, who Naipaul both mocks and has compassion towards. ...read more.

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