It is through personal affirmation then that he realizes his greatest victory or worst defeat. This notion is aptly illustrated in the two novels namely A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul and The Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
A House for Mr. Biswas (House from now on) is a mammoth epic of nearly six hundred pages that illustrates one man's refusal to accept fate and to rise above the circumstances. It chronicles the life of Mohan Biswas who has just one dream all his life i.e. to win his independence by having his own place. He wants to be able to free himself from the clutches of the Tulsi family and while he dies at the young age of 46, he is one contented man having gained his independence.
It is as early as in the prologue that we learn about Mohan's mission when we see that he is a sacked reporter who is dying at the age of forty-six in his own place "on his own half-lot of land, his own portion of the earth," on Sikkim Street, Port-of-Spain:
How terrible it would have been, at this time, to be without it [a house]: to have died among the Tulsis, amid the squalor of that large, disintegrating and indifferent family; to have left Shama and the children among them, in one room; worse, to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one's portion of the earth; to have lived and died as one had been born...
In this he resembles Santiago of The Old Man and the Sea who is not an ordinary aging protagonist himself. From the very beginning Hemingway creates a portrait that alerts us that we are not dealing with an ordinary character when we learn that: "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish" ( Hemingway 1952, 9).
That Mohan's life would be extraordinary is clear from right from the auspicious time of his birth. He was born at midnight which according to Hindu myths was not a very fortunate time. The pundit prophesizes that Mohan would be a liar and lecher and the midwife feels he would be the cause of his father's death. As luck would have it, he inadvertently causes his father's drowning and is forced to live with strangers. It is during really tough times that he gets the brutal lesson of "ought oughts are oughts," which if we recall Lear's words means that "Nothing will come out of nothing." But Mohan is not the one to believe that. He was willing "to create himself and his world out of nothing." (Boxill, p. 37) The actual struggle begins when Mr. Biswas is dismissed from his position as a live-in pundit apprentice and from there on starts his solitary journey: "The neighbours had heard, and came out to watch Mr Biswas as, in his dhoti, with his bundle slung on his shoulders, he walked through the village" (pp. 56-7). It is after some odd jobs that he finally lands a place with a powerful, conservative, land-owning family, the Tulsis who admire his sign-painting skills.
Once inside their house, Biswas loses his independence completely. The Tulsis are a cunning lot who trap Mohan into marrying their daughter Shama because of his high caste. From their on,