“One Out of Many” by V.S. Naipaul

Topics: Narrative, Fiction, Short story Pages: 4 (1543 words) Published: October 21, 2014
Option 2 Short Stories

Read “One Out of Many” by V.S. Naipaul (in the Anthology, A World of Difference, pp. 261-94). Discuss the ways in which the author explores the concept of freedom in the story.

“One Out of Many”, a short story by the famous Trinidad-born British writer V. S. Naipaul, first published in his anthology In a Free State in 1973, is a story which concerns a young Indian man from Bombay who starts a new life and struggles with his own personal identity in the city of Washington D.C. Through narrative structure within the short story Naipaul seems to question the meaning of freedom, and what constitutes freedom on both a societal, and personal level.

In order to fully explore the theme of freedom within the plot and the narrative of “One Out of Many”, it is worthwhile to mention a few of its key elements, and how they fit into a wider political, and social context. There are a number of important events that happen to the main protagonist, Santosh, that help to shape his own sense of self identity and thus bring him to question the freedom which he has in his own life. The first of these events is Santosh’s emigration to Washington D.C. with his employer, which causes Santosh to leave his wife and two children behind. Even at this early point in the story Santosh is divided. “Was there a job for me in Bombay?” Santosh questions himself, showing a reluctance to stay on in his native city without the security that has been provided for him by his vocation and his employer. Sometime into his stay in Washington D.C., Santosh seems to gain a greater sense of self-identity (which will be looked at in more depth later), and a sexual encounter with a “hubshi” woman at the time of the race riots in Washington D.C. leads him to abandon the life he has with his employer and to become a more independent citizen.

This leads our protagonist on to what could be seen as one of his most important realisations in terms of his own sense of personal freedom...
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