Identity is defined as the fact of being and knowing who you

Table of Contents

Identity is defined as the fact of being and knowing who you are. In the novels A Bend in The River by V.S Naipaul and The in Between world of Vikram Lall by M.G Vassanji both characters construct their identities or lack thereof through their family, their home and their business.A Bend in the River opens with a forthright statement of a sobering truth, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it” (1). To be nothing, both in material terms and in terms of liberty, and to have no place of one’s own in the world have been the cruel lot of most human beings over the course of history. Set largely in and African country at a bend in a great river the novel revolves around the character of Salim who is an ethnically Indian Muslim, from the east African coast. Salim introduces himself as an “interplay of various peoples” and is depicted as a man without roots, a wanderer in his own homeland. He never identifies with the country in which he lives. He wants to break away from his civilization and his community which he regards as his prison. He rejects the past, the old ways because he believes it is the only way he can become the master of his own life. However, as Salim tries to forget the past he realizes that he has even lost the little sense of self identity that he has. This loss of self which stems from a lack of history leads him in panics, anxiety and a greater sense of insecurity. Salim himself states that his family has no deep sense of history he belongs to a people without a past “History was something dead and gone, part of the world of our grandfathers and we didn’t pay too much attention to it.” (210). All that Salim knows about the past is what is written in books by the Europeans. Introducing the place where his ancestors first came for trade and commerce he states that “The coast was not truly African. It was an Arab-Indian-Persian-Portuguese place”(l3). Although a Muslim family