Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Samuel Selvon's novel A Brighter Sun follows the Trinidadian Tiger, engaged at age 16. The novel sees Tiger witness the birth of his daughter, beat his wife owing to a warped perception of masculinity, experience prejudice, and ultimately mature into a (comparatively) hopeful, confident young man. Important quotations include:
"Boy, dese taximen does have tings their own way too much. Some of dem does tell you dey leaving right away, and wen yuh get in de car, is because dey making round all Charotte Street for more passengers, and wat yuh cud do? Nothing, because yuh in the car already" (86).
This passage reveals the way Tiger's dialect distinguishes him as a member of the lower class. Nevertheless, Tiger tries to learn to read. Tiger realizes reading and the knowledge derived therefrom opens doors, as expressed in the following quote:
"What sort of books would he read when he learned? Well, first it would be heard-you know—I can't read at all. I know the alphabet—when I was small we used to say a, b, c . . . Man, if I tell you 'bout things I want to fid out! What I doing here now? Why I living? What all of we doing here? Why some people black and some people white?" (100).
The author's punctuation and dialect demonstrate how Tiger's thoughts, while earnest, are aspirational and yet without sophistication.
Finally, another theme in A Brighter Sun is race and racism. Trinidad is home to a unique blend of Creoles, Indians, and Whites. Tiger and his wife's neighbor, Rita says, "Why we creole can't live like Indian, quiet and nice?" while Urmilla (Tiger's wife) knows the reality that Indians, too, fought violently. Urmilla thinks to herself "Only white people! If they could only be like white people!" (31). In fact, the prejudice against the Indian on the island taints much of Selvon's poignant novel.