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A Brighter Sun is a novel by Trinidadian author Samuel Selvon, published in 1952.
Set in World War II-era Trinidad, the story centers on a young Indian native named Tiger, who is placed in an arranged marriage at age 16. Leaving home with his equally-young bride Urmilla, Tiger struggles to come to terms with his newly-acquired adult status and proving that he has, in fact, reached true manhood.
The story also delves into the lives of Tiger's multi-ethnic neighbors in his new community of Barataria, the Fantastic Racism that is both subtly and openly expressed there and throughout Trinidad at large, and how the nation as a whole is affected by the war happening hundreds of miles away from the Caribbean shores.
The book was Selvon's first of 10 novels, published by Longman Publishers.
Tropes present in A Brighter Sun:
- Abusive Parents: Joe Martin's grand-aunt, Ma Lambie, frequently beat him during his childhood.
- The Alcoholic: Sookdeo is the village drunkard, and can never go without a drink; some persons claim that he'll die from either too much rum or lack of it. The latter case turns out to be true; he refuses to have a drink when his land is taken over, having lost his reason and will for living.
- Author Avatar: Tiger is noted in the novel's commentary to be Selvon's point-man on the unification of a racially-split Trinidad. Selvon himself, though Indian, was brought up with exposure to Creole food and culture.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Near the end of the novel, Tiger does this to two doctors (one an Indian, one a Negro) who had earlier refused to come and see Urmilla in her moment of illness because of their assumptions born of Fantastic Racism.
- Character Development: Tiger gets this over time.
- Coming of Age Story
- Cool Big Sis: Rita becomes this for Urmilla.
- Cool Old Guy: Sookdeo.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Urmilla, but only because she's not used to wearing shoes to begin with, due to her Indian background.
- Fantastic Racism: All over the place, but especially expressed by Indians and Blacks against each other.
- Good People Have Good Sex
- Happily Married: Tall Boy and Mary. Tiger and Urmilla gradually work at becoming this.
- Ill Girl: Urmilla, during the last third of the book. She gets better. Her unborn child doesn't.
- Jerkass: Numerous characters, but Deen and his wife stand out in particular. Tiger gradually becomes this as well; however, he gets much-needed Character Development.
- Parental Abandonment: Joe's mother left him with his grand-aunt Ma Lambie, and nobody ever knew who his father was. Also, Henry's mother left him with Joe and Rita (his uncle and aunt) to live with a boyfriend in Venezuela, and his father is out of the picture as well.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Tiger feels intense remorse for beating Urmilla, but it only comes after he's sobered up and gotten a What the Hell, Hero? from Joe.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In Joe's backstory, at age 16, he gives one to Ma Lambie in retaliation for her constant abuse of him. Tiger later inflicts this on Urmilla while drunk, causing her to miscarry.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Sookdeo.
- Rule of Symbolism: The sun as a figure of hope; hence, the novel's title. Also, sugar-cane fields as a figure of enslavement.
- Shrinking Violet: Urmilla.
- Supreme Chef: Both Rita and Urmilla.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Tiger and Rita.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In what is possibly her Crowning Moment of Awesome, Rita gives Tiger a savage telling-off when he expresses suspicion of Urmilla cheating on him (and the lecture takes up a whole long paragraph). Later on, Joe subjects Tiger to a much shorter but more threatening lecture for ignoring Urmilla in her time of illness shortly before her miscarriage.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Tiger's boss remarks on how odd his name is.