Department of English
Dr. Umayal Ramanathan College for Women
Many modern literary texts revolve around the concsept of identity. A number of themes in literature centre on identity. An identity crisis is a period of serious personal questioning where the individual makes an effort to determine one’s own values and sense of direction. Identity is confined to man, his reason and freedom of the self in a society. The theme of V. S. Naipaul’s 2001 novel Half a Life in relation to the question of identity and identity- formation.
Naipaul’s Half a life, published just before he received the Nobel Prize, portrays and evaluates the lives of the mixed descent in three countries – India, England and Portuguese Africa (Mozambique) and their struggle to discover their identities. This novel is in three locales – India, England and Africa. Half a Life runs into three uneven sections, subtitled as (a) ‘A Visit From Somerset Maugham,’ (b) ‘The First Chapter,’ (c) ‘A Second Translation.’ In spite of the thin structure of the novel, the novel has a wide cast of characters: Perci Cato, a Jamaican, Marcus, an ambitious businessman, Roger, a young lawyer, Perdita, Roger’s fiancee, Carla, the convent girl, Ricardo, a Military man, The Noranhas, Julio, Correia, a formidable Portuguese, Greca Carl, the manager’s wife, Gouveria, an architect, Mrs. Noranha, a good storyteller and Ana.