The Nowhere Man: An Analysis

The Nowhere Man: An Analysis

Kamala Markandaya is one of the most important Indian novelists of the 20th century. She is widely read. She is a prestigious member of Indian Diaspora. It is she who is considered the pioneer of Indian Diaspora literature. Her novels have been praised for its truthfulness and insight. As a novelist she is very popular for her pragmatic presentation of life. She is appreciated for writing about the culture conflict between Indian urban and rural societies. Her novels offer a valuable glimpse into the lives of Indians living in both India and England. In short, the canvas of Markandaya's literary world is vast.

Kamala Markandaya has written several novels. The popular among them are Nectar in a Sieve (1954), Some Inner Fury (1955), A Silence of Desire (1960), Possession (1963), A Handful of Rice (1966), The Coffer Dams (1969), The Nowhere Man (1972), Two Virgins (1973), The Golden Honeycomb (1977) and Pleasure City (1982).

Markandaya's debut novel Nectar in a Sieve is her most popular work. But many critics are of the opinion that Markandaya's seventh novel The Nowhere Man is her greatest novel. It is Epic in scope. It describes the cultural consequences of widespread postwar South Asian migration to Britain. It deals with the life, experiences, and pangs of an Indian emigrant in a foreign country.

The Nowhere Man is a fantastic novel by Kamala Markandaya. It was published in 1972. This novel deals with alienation and racism. It is a tale of an Indian who lives in London for decades with his family. His name is Srinivas. His story is the story of loss and disillusionment. His son dies for England that refuses to accept him. He is discriminated throughout. Here otherness has been presented suitably. The marginalized Indian is treated as the other even after decades of living in England.

Srinivas is the protagonist of The Nowhere Man. He is an Indian Brahmin scholar. He has spent his youth in a small town situated in Southern India during Pre-Independence times. He is meritorious. He is married to a modest and beautiful Brahmin girl named Vasantha. As soon as he gets married he visits England. It is his academic excellence that made him travel towards England. Very soon he settles himself as a successful business man in England. After that he brings Vasantha also to England. This couple also carries Indian beliefs, traditions, habits and dress with them.

Very soon this couple becomes prosperous in London. They get two sons Laxman and Seshu. Srinivas and Vasantha love them very much. Just before the Second World War they select a house in South London. Keeping the future requirements in their mind, they buy it. The elder son, Laxman, becomes an engineer in the British Army. Seshu, the younger son, becomes a navigator in the Royal Air Force. Unfortunately Seshu is killed in an ambulance accident. Due to the sudden death of Seshu, Vasantha receives a terrible shock. On the other hand Laxman marries to Pat. Pat is an English girl in Plymouth. He starts living with his in-laws. He does not bring his son or wife to his parents. It is also a great shock for Vasantha. She is sooner attacked by tuberculosis. Due to this deadly disease Vasantha passes away. Now Srinivas becomes alone. Simultaneously the business of Srinivas goes into a huge loss. These conditions make him desperate, feeble and puzzled in an alien land. Due to these situations it becomes difficult for him to live balanced. The solitude of Srinivas compels him to come closer to an elderly lady named Mrs. Pickering. She is a helpless lady. Srinivas and Mrs. Pickering become good friends. This friendship leads them to live together. They start living just like husband and wife. It is completely unbearable for Laxman. He is very angry. Once he comes to see his father. He learns that his father is suffering from leprosy and Mrs. Pickering is carefully nursing him.

As Srinivas starts leading peaceful life economically with the support of Mrs. Pickering, his vicious neighbor, Fred Fletcher, starts harassing him. He starts teasing him. He leaves dead mice at his door step. He goes to an extreme end and throws tar on Srinivas once. His racial discrimination has no bounds. Fletcher’s companions also abuses Srinivas. Fletcher and his companions begin to threaten him to leave that area. Here the writer tries to show the discrimination of West for East. Srinivas is ill-treated and tortured for no reason. At last Srinivas dies in a pathetic situation. He is set fire by Fletcher. The doctor tries his best to save Srinivas but his efforts go into vain. The life of an old man ends pathetically.

Srinivas is the product of racism. It is he who experiences racism in India and abroad both. As a university student in India he has experienced a number of humiliations due to this racism and at last he dies due to the same racism. Thus, there’s a kind of continuum of discrimination. In short, racism is at the root of The Nowhere Man. It is a beautiful piece of fiction. It is an intelligent analysis of human character It is obvious that The Nowhere Man is a plea for human dignity and sanity.


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