Decentering the West: Tracing the Postcolonial Bildungsroman in Naipaul’s A Bend in the River
This paper deploys postcolonial bildungsroman as a theoretical tool to analyze Salim’s maturity in Naipaul’s A Bend in The River. In the theoretical tradition of postcolonial bildungsroman, the growth of the protagonist is not only anti-colonial, but is also leaned towards indigenousness in language, style, religio-cultural rootedness, and belonging. Salim’s quest for self is a modern-day odyssey which is marked with his anti-colonial coming-of-age sensibility – a progression that makes its way through decentering the West. Salim challenges the merging of cultures -a colonial strategy- to signal his postcolonial coming into being. The assertion of the indigenous self directs Salim to give up on his Eurocentric worldview and wedge an identity of his own. With the belief that Master’s tools will dismantle the Master's house, Salim achieves the validation of his ‘native’ self through exploiting Master’s language. His journey to and education in England prove as catalysts in Salim’s growth as a post(-)colonial subject and is, therefore, characterized by the structural othering of the West which pushes it from the center to the periphery.
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