Today’s topic is The mimic men by V.S. Naipaul.
Strange and very one sided perspective, The mimic men leaves me with the impression that there should have been more in the book, that something is left unfinished. The main character, Ralph Singh, is a normal person, with a bit less willpower, with strange feelings, who likes to let himself be carried away by others and doesn’t like to look back. His story , presented only from his narrow view, is somehow difficult to understand, or to get an objective opinion over it. His life is depicted started from the middle, continuing with his childhood and ending with his struggle as a politician.
The author presents us a recipe of a man who becomes a very powerful leader and then his downfall. We could put another title to the book : “How to become a politician”. Even if Ralph is considered mediocre or nothing out of the ordinary until his middle age, he has the luck to become more than he deserves, and the naivety to think that he was destined for it. A simple circumstantial environment makes him able to take some decisions that he doesn’t even consider too much. He is not being torn by anything, not by remorse against his bad decisions, not by joy of his good ones. He only thinks about the near future and how the wave has carried him to glory, somehow remembering past facts of least significance for his career, but significant for his emotional evolution.
Everything Ralph does is because others compelled him to. He goes to the Isabella college in his youth, where is a silent child, somehow abused by his colleagues, where he doesn’t emit any demands at being a leader, at being respected, or at having too much friends. He considers friends people who he barely meets, and spends most time pretending to read, pretending to be friends with his older and more social enhanced cousin.
Even his marriage is done by sole wish of his future wife, who decides this step for him, as well as their break-up. Ralph accepts somehow with fatality everything that destiny has there for him, and he does not regret not interfering with anything. As soon as his wife leaves him, he feels not much remorse or tension, but happy that things turned out in one way or another. He only has some memories of her in places that remind him of her.
His father makes a decision to become a spiritual leader and forget about his family and workplace, friends, but Ralph takes it as a granted. He does not even try to speak with his father. His political career is a mere fact of circumstance, his old time pseudo friend is involved in creating an image of poverty – relation with communism, that catches the audience. Ralph then pushes this image and promotes poverty and social well-being, which makes him gain a lot of credit within the people. Ralph however is not prepared to face continuity, and accepts his downfall with the same lucidity.
Ralph is the model of the over-night becoming politician, with no horizon for the future, he is also the fatalist, taking everything as is. The author presents a story of how to become known, and how you can downfall very easily. Isabella, the island and city where Ralph has both success and failure, is a model of undeveloped country, where poverty is acclaimed, but everybody only has desires for a better life, not willing to sacrifice or work for the benefit of the community. This role has been taken by many new emerging countries after the world war two with the autodetermination theory, and in recent history as well after the communism downfall, and probably in the future with countries splitting apart more and more based on ethnicity, social or economic differences.