Identity into today’s social networking world is very important. Who you are, and who your friends are has become ever more important in today’s super connected world. The twentieth century based film “The Mystic Masseur” by Ismail Merchant which is based on the novel The Mystic Masseur by V.S. Naipaul is a coming of age story that deals with the search for identity. The protagonist, Ganesh in Mystic Masseur is searching for who he is and faces unique obstacles in becoming himself.
The Mystic Masseur by V.S. Naipaul, narrates the story of Ganesh, a Hindu man struggling to find his place in a society that is divided between Indian and British cultures. Ganesh fights to find his place in the shifting culture of Trinidad. He changes from his Indian culture to British culture. Ganesh lives in Trinidad in 1957 when Great Britain are colonizers of the country and Indians are still migrating to Trinidad to work. Great Britain has a large influence on India and Trinidad at this time therefore in Trinidad there are two separate competing cultures. Ganesh sees the detachment between the two but is undecided on which side of the country he belongs to. He is torn between the culture which he is raised in and which his father is a part of, which is the Indian culture and the British culture which credits his education, because at this time, enrolling in college was seen as the British culture.
Ganesh is trying to find himself. He is changing his career and is torn between two cultures that reside in Trinidad, the Indian culture and the British foreign colonizer culture. As Ganesh struggles to find his place in the changing culture of Trinidad, he moves from the Indian culture to the British culture.
"I myself believe that the history of Ganesh is, in a way, the history of our times..." (The Mystic Masseur 8). Naipaul thinks that Ganesh’s history shows how Trinidad’s culture is reforming over time, Ganesh is reforming along with Trinidad. Each time that Ganesh changes to a different career, it shows how Ganesh and Trinidad are both modernizing. Ramadevi says “In the course of presenting the life story of a man who keeps changing roles in the Caribbean community and meets.…public success and private fulfillment”(26). Ganesh represents the ideal life in Trinidad and every time he moves to a different job he is showing how he is accomplishing what is anticipated of his life as well as his desire to learn and drive for success. Ganesh first starts a job as substitute teacher, and then moves to a spiritual masseur which is expected of him since his father was a famous masseur, and eventually becomes a politician. He moves from Indian culture of being a masseur to the British culture of being a politician.
On the day that Ganesh’s father dies, it begins his transformation. It starts by him quitting his job, he realizes that it is not getting him anywhere. He writes in The Years of Guilt, “My father had died that Monday morning…just about the...