When his American guest, who calls all Indians “John,” asks Tiger why he was given his name, Tiger replies, “I don’t know, I must be resemble a tiger! All my other brothers and sisters have good Indian nominations, is only me they give a funny name.” Tiger’s progress in the search for manhood and a personal identity is reflected in the way he deals with language. Tiger was reared with an illiterate form of Hindi-influenced English, but when he moves to Barataria he becomes more exposed to the creole-English dialect which serves most of the locals; Tiger tries to think big thoughts, however, and soon realizes that to change his life he must change his language. He becomes something of a community leader after he learns how to read, and although his attempt to inject high-sounding dictionary English into his conversation is played mainly for laughs, it also demonstrates his ambition to move beyond the limitations of his peasant background. Tiger becomes able to employ a more standard English when the situation calls for it and even heaps scorn on a creole doctor who seeks to intimidate him with the “pretty words” of cultured British English.
Tiger believes that, “All different kinds of people in Trinidad, you have to mix up with all of them,” and he ponders a political career because, “Is politics that build a country.” He finally settles into the use of urban creole-English to communicate with his fellows. Tiger recognizes that his ideal of a Trinidadian society based on brotherhood is more a wish than a reality and that much work needs to be done. Tiger yearns for something new, and although he is somewhat apprehensive about change, he knows that it must come and that he must prepare for it.
While Tiger is a fully realized personality, the other characters in the novel are basically stereotypes....
(The entire section is 753 words.)