B. Wordsworth

by

V. S. Naipaul

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The Boy (The Narrator) Character Analysis

The main protagonist of the story is a young boy, although it is clear that he has grown up since the events of the story. His actions and words suggest that he is somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10 at the time the story takes place. He comes from a possibly difficult background, based on the contentious relationship he seems to have with his mother and the fact he lives in an impoverished area (beggars, for example, regularly come to the house where he lives). At the same time, his curiosity about B. Wordsworth upon first meeting him and his interest in what B. Wordsworth has to say reflects his openness to the world and to others. Central to his friendship with B. Wordsworth is also his ability to experience wonder. We see this when he gazes up at the stars with B. Wordsworth and then when B. Wordsworth shares with him his project of writing “the greatest poem in the world.” In both instances he is changed and deepened by the experience. He is also perceptive—he notices, for example, that B. Wordsworth is dying when he visits him for the last time. And he is compassionate; he weeps out of pity for his dying friend. The boy moves from innocence to experience during the course of the story. While in the beginning of the story he sees the world in a mostly fresh and innocent way, the sense of sadness B. Wordsworth communicates on occasion and the sorrow the boy experiences at the end of the story suggest a growing awareness of the more difficult realities of human existence.

The Boy (The Narrator) Quotes in B. Wordsworth

The B. Wordsworth quotes below are all either spoken by The Boy (The Narrator) or refer to The Boy (The Narrator). 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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The Boy (The Narrator) Character Timeline in B. Wordsworth

The timeline below shows where the character The Boy (The Narrator) 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
Like the several “beggars” who regularly appear at the narrator ’s house, a strange man comes into the yard one afternoon and asks if he... (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... (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... (full context)
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
...the world.” He shares the line he wrote the previous month: “The past is deep.” The narrator is “filled with wonder” when B. Wordsworth says that his poem will “sing to all... (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... (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.... (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... (full context)