What is the role of Conflict in Miguel Street as portrayed by V.S Naipaul?

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The Conflict in “Miguel Street”

What is the role of Conflict in “Miguel Street” as portrayed by V.S Naipaul?

IB - 1A

English – HL

The novel “Miguel Street” by V.S Naipaul is actually a collection of short stories interwoven by the same conflict that the society of Miguel Street faces. It is written into different chapters, each sketching a different protagonist of its own, ending with failure. However the narrator throughout the novel is one, a small unnamed boy who becomes mature along with his age as the novel progresses. Apart from that the continuous presence of almost all the characters throughout the novel keeps the book intact. The fascinating thing about the Miguel Street is that everyday an eventful event takes place. After I finished reading all the chapters of the book, I noticed a common conflict that the Miguel Street faces, which is that almost every member of the society of Miguel Street attempts to escape reality and almost all of them as a result end up with nothing but failure. Except for Elias and the narrator boy, no one has any ambitions, which makes the Miguel Street a ‘slum’.  

Immediately in the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Bogart, who is found to be a victim of bigamy, by legally marrying one girl and then marrying another, thereafter, instead of facing the burdens of taking care of a family, he runs away. So in a way, he runs away from reality and comes to Miguel Street. Popo, another inhabitant of Miguel Street is another interesting character to look at. I would say, he is more or less a victim of laziness. He calls himself a carpenter, even though he hasn’t done that many works of a carpenter. What he has ever built was a little galvanized-iron workshop and even that incomplete. Thereafter, he was always busy building “a thing without a name”. But one day his wife runs away and to bring her back, instead of using his own talent and energy, he steals furniture. However, his wife does come back but he himself ends up with failure by getting jailed for three years. When he comes back he does not continue to build “the thing without a name”. Instead, he then becomes a real carpenter by making chairs, tables, and wardrobes. So this shows that all this time he was running away from reality, because he had the talent to make furniture but opted to steal.  

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Another character that you can compare with Popo is B. Wordsworth, who just like Popo’s “thing without a name”, but in the form of desire to write a poem that would ‘sing to all humanity’. I think he is not really a poet; he is just too obsessed to be one, due to that he says that he will write the best poem in the world, which will take him twenty-two years, but as time passes and he gets older and weaker, he realizes that he can’t write such a poem and decides to shatter his illusion with the ...

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