B. Wordsworth by V.S. Naipaul

B. Wordsworth - V. S. NaipaulIn B. Wordsworth by V. S. Naipaul we have the theme of admiration, identity, curiosity, friendship, control, freedom, uncertainty and coming of age. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed male the story is a memory piece and after reading the story the reader realises that Naipaul may be exploring the theme of admiration. If anything the narrator appears to admire Wordsworth though the reality may be that Wordsworth may not necessarily be who he says he is. He suggests that he is writing a poem that will be the greatest poem in the world however as the story progresses Wordsworth admits to the narrator that there is no poem. However it might also be significant that Wordsworth denies the story about the girl poet as the reality may be the girl poet may have been Wordsworth’s wife and the sudden loss of her is something that Wordsworth may have never overcome. Wordsworth was a young man at the time and had the future in front of him. However his life appears to have become one of loneliness since the girl poet’s death. If anything Wordsworth’s wife may have been his inspiration and it is possible he has not written any poetry since her death. Wordsworth is also a curiosity to the narrator. If anything the narrator is intrigued by the life that Wordsworth lives and it is a life that is completely different to the one that the narrator lives. The narrator’s life is being controlled by his mother yet when he is with Wordsworth he feels free.

Wordsworth’s instruction to the narrator to drop the pin in the water might also be symbolically important. The narrator expects the pin to float however it is clear to the reader that it will sink. It is possible that Naipaul by introducing the pin into the story is highlighting the uncertainty that comes with life and the fact that nobody really knows what will happen. It is as though the narrator is being taught to learn by his mistakes. The fact that the narrator also notices that Wordsworth’s home has been demolished after he has died and that the garden is no longer there, having been replaced by concrete, could be Naipaul’s way of highlighting the importance of nature in a person’s life. How an individual might need to take some time out from life and enjoy the natural world around them. Just as Wordsworth and the narrator manage to do. It is also possible that by telling the narrator that he is the greatest poet in the world and that the narrator is a poet too. Wordsworth is attempting to instil confidence into the narrator. To allow him to think that anything is possible.

If anything Wordsworth acts as a role model to the narrator. He guides him to the best of his ability through life allowing him to make mistakes and to learn at the same time. Something that does not occur when it comes to the narrator’s mother’s influence over the narrator. Where she may represent the conflict that exists in the narrator’s life. Wordsworth on the other hand has a positive impact on the narrator. Opening the narrator’s eyes to the benefits of nature. Prior to Wordsworth meeting the narrator there is no suggestion that the narrator may have appreciated the beauty of nature. It may also be a case that just as Naipaul is suggesting that nature is often under appreciated. So too may poets be. Wordsworth is an educated man. Something that is noticeable by the way that he speaks. However when he tries to sell a poem. The narrator’s mother doesn’t want to buy it. It is as though Wordsworth (or all poets) are disconnected from those around them due to their occupation. When the reality is a poet may be more connected to the world than the average person.

The end of the story is also interesting as it appears as though the narrator comes of age when Wordsworth dies. He has lost what some critics might suggest has been his best teacher and he knows that life may never be the same again. No longer does he have the opportunity to hear the life lessons that Wordsworth might teach him. Instead there is a sense that the narrator is returning to a life that is not as attractive to him. However what is clear to the reader is that the narrator has never forgotten Wordsworth. He may have forgotten some of the constellations with the exception of Orion but he has never forgotten Wordsworth. The reader left suspecting that the narrator’s time with Wordsworth has been time well spent. Even if Wordsworth did confuse the narrator before he died and told him that there was no poem nor was there a girl poet. If anything Wordsworth has made an impression on the narrator and at the same time taught him to appreciate nature and to be confident within himself.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "B. Wordsworth by V.S. Naipaul." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 26 Jul. 2018. Web.

31 comments

  • Found it really helpful.Thank you so much for this 🙂 .

  • Incredible so deep were your explanations i would really love if you consider my point of view that at last the poet tries to confuse the narrator so that the fact that his teacher(his inspiration) fails to write the greatest poem in the world might not shake his confidence and that seeing his teacher fail might drift him away from the want, to become a poet!

  • According to my point of view at last Wordsworth himself realizes that a poet’s life is never a soothing and a comfortable one and so he regrets instilling the confidence of being a poet inside the boy. Wordsworth therefore tells the narrator that all the story about the greatest poem and the girl poet was false so that the narrator seeing Wordsworth would return to his normal life and hence not turn into becoming a failed poet.

  • Can you please explain the ending of the story i’m quite confused it would be a great help if you could.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      What has you confused? Have you read some of the previous comments about the end of the story. Might they help you?

      • I did read the previous comments but they do not seem to convince me. A man lying on the death bed says to a child that all the things told to him (which changed a great deal in his life ) are all lies. Would be much helpful if you could explain rest of the analysis made by you is A-class and would definitely help me fetch great marks in my examinations. Thanks in advance.

        • Dermot (Post Author)

          I favour the idea that Wordsworth does not wish for the narrator to live his life in the same manner as Wordsworth himself. Wordsworth may have been an idealist who has (on his death bed) admitted defeat in his battle or journey through life. He does not wish for the narrator to do the same. He wants him to be more practical.

          There is also the possibility that Wordsworth is lying because he simply doesn’t want the narrator to devote his life to poetry (or writing) as he will only end up like Wordsworth. Living in poverty. I don’t think that Wordsworth is setting out to hurt the narrator. Instead I think he may be protecting the narrator from the pitfalls that come with a life devoted to words.

          It might also be important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the ending of the story. Each reader will have their own individual viewpoint or perspective on what Wordsworth’s intentions might have been.

  • Thank u for your kindness!!

  • Thank you for your kindness!! I want to print it on my own thing. Can I do that? I won’t share to anyone.

  • Can anyone tell me which is the main theme out of all these?

  • Probably the most intriguing part of this story is the choice and use of vocabulary . More then often we see that the boy talking in a distorted fashion , apparently it seems to be a linguistic error but Naipul under the disguise of using faulty English says much more then what’s written.

    For example when Wordsworth says that he would finish his poetry in the next twenty two years the boy replies “You does write a lot then” which supposedly means that he does not write a lot but if we take the sentence literally (which is usually ignored) it means that he does write a lot. Indeed , what if he writes a single line in a month but that line speaks more than a million words altogether . That single line has so many implications , explanations , and that single line is equivalent to a whole poetry .

    This is my view point please whether it is fine and if at all i can use it while writing answers and analysis

  • Can u explain why he pretended to be a poet

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Sometimes people pretend to be things they are not in order to boost their self-esteem or popularity.

  • Do you think by me only reading this analysis, will be helpful for my exam?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      You might like to read one or two more opinions on the story. Just as back up. Good luck with your exam.

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