The novel, A Bend in the River, centers on Salim, a Muslim of an Indian family who has lives in coastal towns. Salim himself is not really a smart man, not intellectual at all. It takes place in an unnamed east coastal African country. The topic, which I'm going to handle, is about the comparison of Salim's view of "The Big Man” contrasting with Naipaul's view of Mobutu in "A New King for the Congo”.
The Big Man is the country's new elite. He is a raw, fearful, and greedy man. He rules by rhetorical devices, and sorcery. The Big man is the president for life. Many things are changing in the country. Big buildings are being built; young one's are admitted to new schools and universities; the street thugs are all enrolled in the army. It's like if The Big Man is making a difference there. Many things are changing, even to the point where the tribes are fading away, the social classes that are dismembering from society. People living there are also losing most of their self-assurance. They even listen to 3-hour lectures from The Big Man on radio. We can clearly see what is happening. The Big Man is making things exactly how he wants them. He is making the society believe that there is going to be only one source of power, and that's going to be him. He basically wants to eliminate all the tribal life and bring out a new way of living. Salim, like I said in the beginning is not a very intellectual man, so he is trying to understand the new Africa. It hasn't all setup in his mind yet. So he decides to be patient. At the end the Big Man pretty much ruins Salim's life by assigning his little shop to Citizen Theotime. But personally I don't think that giving away his shop like that affected him that much. I think it's the way he wanted him to do things that mad him mad. The Big Man wanted Salim to let Theotime be the boss, be someone he wasn't. Basically the Big Man put him in a position where Salim felt like if his role was taken away from him.