Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 329
A Brighter Sun is a 1952 novel written by Caribbean novelist Samuel Selvon. It is the author’s first novel, and it tells the story of a sixteen-year-old ambitious Trinidadian boy of Indian ancestry, named Tiger, who is placed in an arranged marriage with the equally young and eager to please girl, Urmilla. Set in Trinidad and Tobago during the Second World War, the novel showcases the young couple’s attempts to figure out what it means to be a responsible adult.
The title is an interesting element of the novel. Selvon often writes of the importance and the meaning of the sun, and its effect on the protagonists’ psyche. He says that the sun is the only constant in their day-to-day life, which provides them with comfort and joy, and inspires them to continue pursuing their dreams.
The sun spun crazily in the sky, like it had gone mad. It burned him. It had been burning ever since he could remember. But he loved it, because everything looked good when it was shining.
Aside from the fact that the narrative is mainly focused on Tiger and Urmilla, and also on their interesting neighbors Rita and Joe, Selvon attempts to paint an accurate picture of the socio-economic and political climate in Trinidad and Tobago in the World War II era, and show the negative effects of racism, sexism, prejudice and discrimination. Selvon tells us that, whilst growing up and attempting to prove his manhood, Tiger starts to beat his pregnant wife and drink heavily, and refuse to accept the fact that the child Urmilla is carrying might not be a boy. Thus, the author touches upon the themes of domestic violence, and social and gender roles as well. Fortunately, Tiger comes around and learns that what he did was not good, and tries to right his wrong. Which is why the novel is also a coming of age story about discovering your identity amidst a global ethnic and cultural war.
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