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‘Guerrillas’ by V.S Naipaul

The characters of a person can be judged by the way an individual acts and treats other people in his/her life. Different people view life from different perspectives, and it is this attitude of looking towards life that influences a person’s thinking and makes him/her to behave in a particular manner. The novel “Guerrillas” by V. S. Naipaul depicts the different behaviors of the people through its characters and their outlooks towards life. The novel follows the lives of a couple, Roche and Jane on an unknown Caribbean island. Roche is a white man from South Africa whereas Jane belongs to Great Britain and lives in London.

After arriving on the island, their actions and decisions are influenced by their character traits. Roche and Jane’s behavior reflect their traits and changes their lives in numerous aspects. In this paper, we will analyze the characters of Jane and Roche by focusing on their actions and decisions. Jane The character, whose life undergoes immense changes owing to the decisions taken by her, is Jane. From the beginning of the novel, the author presents Jane as a self-centered person who is concerned only about her own needs and desires.

Her behavior was far different from what she said, for she never respected and tried to live by her words. “Adventuring, she was indifferent, perhaps blind, to the contradiction between what she said and what she was so secure of being; and this indifference or blindness, this absence of the sense of the absurd, was part of her unassailability. ” (Naipaul 18). Her actions and decisions were influenced by her desire to fulfill her wishes. She never worried about the impact her actions had on the lives of people surrounding her.

Even in her relation with her lover, Roche there was a lack of commitment on her part. Although she left London and came to live on the island with Roche, she gives up her relation with Roche for the sake of her infatuation for Jimmy. “The gesture of leaving London and coming out to live with him, so soon after meeting him, had appeared to him grand, part of her passionate nature, yet it was contained within the sense of inviolability, her belief that everything could be undone. ” (Naipaul 96). She never thought about the affect her actions would have on Roche.

Her character traits influence her decisions, owing to which she meets a tragic end. Her thinking that she is free to lead her life according to her liking makes her to ignore her own intuition regarding her sexual relation with Jimmy. “A whole sentence ran through her head, at first meaningless and then, as she examined it, alarming. She thought: I’ve been playing with fire. ” (Naipaul 90). Although she realized that she was putting herself in dangerous circumstances by having a sexual relation with Jimmy, she paid no heed to her realization and continued her relation with Jimmy.

Owing to her decision, she finds herself in a situation where she is raped and murdered by Jimmy. Her tragic death is caused by her attitude which was full of “casual, instinctive cruelty towards people with whom she was not concerned, this cruelty part of her laziness, her refusal to be bothered. ” (Naipaul 73). Although she was aware of the consequences of her actions, she continues living her life in a reckless manner. Roche One of the main characters in the novel is Roche whose ambition is to bring change in the lives of the poor people living on the island.

He differs from Jane in various aspects, for he views life from a different perspective. For the people around him, he appeared as a man who is working for a cause. “Yet he knew that to many people around him he appeared as a man given over a cause. It was understandable, but it was strange; because he had no political dogma and no longer had a vision of a world made good, and perhaps had never had a such a vision. ” (Naipaul 87). But in reality, Roche was an individual who did not have the belief system to succeed in the aim of bringing changes on the island.

Instead of changing his attitude and thoughts, he wished that the circumstances in which he worked were different so that he can accomplish his aim. “I wish the world were arranged differently, so that afterwards I didn’t feel I had been landed with a side. I wish I hadn’t walked into a particular trap……I had somehow committed myself to one kind of action and one cause. ” (Naipaul 204). He fails in his attempts and blames the people for having hope on him. “But I don’t know why you should want me to hold out hope.

” (Naipaul 206). In his radio interview, he expresses his thought that he is not responsible for holding the hope of the people living on the island. Roche failed to achieve success in his works which aimed to bring good changes on the island owing to his character traits which made me weak and prevented him from fighting for his cause. “He was a doer of good works, with results that never showed. ” (Naipaul 54). In his relation with Jane also, he accepted mistreatment at her hands instead of opposing her.

His weakness is the reason which makes him to hide the murder of Jane and prepare to leave the island. He lacks the courage to pursue the murderer of Jane. His words spoken to Jimmy upon his decision to leave the island bring forth his weakness. “We are leaving you alone. ” (Naipaul 246). His struggle with the situations on the island ends in a failure, as he desires to escape from the island instead of confronting with Jimmy. Works Cited Naipaul, V. S. Guerrillas. Random House Publishing Group. 1976.

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