How is Popo profiled in Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul? Is Popo a realistic character?

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Popo is another interesting character profiled in Naipaul’s coming-of-age story set in Trinidad and Tobago.  As the author explores Popo’s character, the reader learns that respect is earned on Miguel Street in different ways than respect is earned in other places around the world.  Popo’s story is an endless cycle from disrespect to respect.  In short, Popo is only respected when he separates from his wife, Emelda, who is a very hard worker.  When Popo becomes less traditional and more angry and discouraged (often turning to alcohol for escape), the community on Miguel Street finally accepts him. 

The community’s opinion of Popo again lowers when he comes back to his wife and fixes up their home.  Popo again regains the negative label of “man-woman.”  Popo is only respected again when he is arrested for stealing the materials and furniture in order to fix up the home.  The cycle continues when Popo is released from prison and again becomes industrious through his carpentry trade.  Popo’s profile shows that, on Miguel Street in Trinidad and Tobago, women should be the bread-winners. 

In regards to Popo being a “realistic character,” one can say that he is realistic through the eyes of Miguel Street in Trinidad and Tobago, but not necessarily through the reader’s eyes.  Success on Miguel Street does not involve monetary success, but perseverance, pride, and dignity.  If you compare Popo to this standard, he goes back and forth between achieving success and losing that success again and again.

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