B. Wordsworth

by

V. S. Naipaul

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Although B. Wordsworth is associated with the beggars who come to the boy’s house on a regular basis, he is soon established as an educated man with a vibrant imagination and delicate feelings. Although he makes a half-hearted effort to sell the boy a poem upon first meeting him, he is much more interested in simply observing the world around him and appreciating the beauty and wonder of this world. His interest in insects, in the stars, and in greenery all reflect this. His imaginative way of engaging with the world is likewise reflected in his interest in poetry. Although at the end of the story he disavows actually being a poet, his words, actions, and manner of guiding the boy into a deeper awareness of reality suggest that he is a poet in a more nuanced sense. B. Wordsworth is at the same time a man without a clearly established social identity. There is no sense of a past that attaches to him (he also disavows the story he told the boy about a wife and child who died), no sense of a clear social identity in the present, and no sense of a future. He presumably dies alone, without family or friends at his side. If he largely functions in the story as a guide who initiates the boy into a poetic way of seeing the world, he is also an ephemeral figure, so much so that the boy wonders at the end of the story if he ever actually existed.

B. Wordsworth Quotes in B. Wordsworth

The B. Wordsworth quotes below are all either spoken by B. Wordsworth or refer to B. Wordsworth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity Construction Theme Icon
).
B. Wordsworth Quotes

His English was so good it didn’t sound natural, and I could see my mother was worried.

She said to me, ‘Stay here and watch him while he watch the bees.’

The man said, ‘Thank you, Madam. You have done a good deed today.’

He spoke very slowly and very correctly, as though every word was costing him money.

Related Characters: B. Wordsworth (speaker), The Boy’s Mother (speaker), The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

‘Black. Black Wordsworth. White Wordsworth was my brother. We share one heart. I can watch a small flower like the morning glory and cry.’

Related Characters: B. Wordsworth (speaker), The Boy (The Narrator)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

He lived in Alberto Street in a one-roomed hut placed right in the centre of the lot. The yard seemed all green. There was the big mango tree. There was a coconut tree and there was a plum tree. The place looked wild, as though it wasn’t in the city at all. You couldn’t see all the big concrete houses in the street.

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

B. Wordsworth said, ‘Now, let us lie on the grass and look up at the sky, and I want you to think how far those stars are from us.’

I did as he told me, and I saw what he meant. I felt like nothing, and at the same time I had never felt so big and great in all my life. I forgot all my anger and all my tears and all the blows.

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘Listen, and I will tell you a story. Once upon a time a boy and girl met each other and they fell in love. They loved each other so much they got married. They were both poets. He loved words. She loved grass and flowers and trees. They lived happily in a single room, and then one day the girl poet said to the boy poet, “We are going to have another poet in the family.” But this poet was never born, because the girl died, and the young poet died with her, inside her. And the girl’s husband was very sad, and he said he would never touch a thing in the girl’s garden. And so the garden remained, and grew high and wild.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘But this is a different sort of poem. This is the greatest poem in the world.’

I whistled.

He said, ‘I have been working on it for more than five years now. I will finish it in about twenty-two years from now, that is, if I keep on writing at the present rate.’

You does write a lot, then?’

He said, ‘Not any more. I just write one line a month. But I make sure it is a good line.’

I asked, ‘What was last month’s good line?’ He looked up at the sky and said, ‘The past is deep.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Our walks continued. We walked along the sea-wall at Docksite one day, and I said, ‘Mr. Wordsworth, if I drop this pin in the water, you think it will float?’

He said, ‘This is a strange world. Drop your pin, and let us see what will happen.’

The pin sank.

Related Characters: B. Wordsworth (speaker), The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking through the window at the coconut tree, and he was speaking as though I wasn’t there. He said, ‘When I was twenty I felt the power within myself.’ Then, almost in front of my eyes, I could see his face growing older and more tired. He said, ‘But that—that was a long time ago.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘Good. Well, listen. That story I told you about the boy poet and the girl poet, do you remember that? That wasn’t true. It was something I just made up. All this talk about poetry and the greatest poem in the world, that wasn’t true, either. Isn’t that the funniest thing you have heard?’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

I walked along Alberto Street a year later, but I could find no sign of the poet’s house. It hadn’t vanished, just like that. It had been pulled down, and a big, two-storeyed building had taken its place. The mango tree and the plum tree and the coconut tree had all been cut down, and there was brick and concrete everywhere.

It was just as though B. Wordsworth had never existed.

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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B. Wordsworth Character Timeline in B. Wordsworth

The timeline below shows where the character B. Wordsworth appears in B. Wordsworth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
B. Wordsworth
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
The Wonder of Nature Theme Icon
...while he watches the bees. The man calls himself a poet and introduces himself as B. Wordsworth , claiming that the “B” stands for “Black Wordsworth” and that he and the “white... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
The Wonder of Nature Theme Icon
The narrator runs into B. Wordsworth a week later when returning home from school. B. Wordsworth invites the narrator to come... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
The Wonder of Nature Theme Icon
Living and Dying Theme Icon
The narrator and B. Wordsworth become friends. B. Wordsworth makes the narrator promise not to talk to anyone about him... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
One day, B. Wordsworth shares that he is working on a project that involves writing one line of poetry... (full context)
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
The Wonder of Nature Theme Icon
While out walking along the water one day, the narrator asks B. Wordsworth if he should drop a pin into the water to see what will happen. B.... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
Living and Dying Theme Icon
The narrator notices that B. Wordsworth is growing older and asks him how he earns money. B. Wordsworth says that he... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
Living and Dying Theme Icon
A year later, the narrator walks past the place where B. Wordsworth ’s house used to be and discovers that it has been demolished. A two-story building... (full context)