Look, for example, at V.S. Naipaul’s great novel of economic development, A House for Mr. Biswas. … (M)easured by the cultural distance between Mr. Biswas’s parents and his children, his life is a story of amazing progress. …Robert Lucas (2002). Lectures on Economic Growth, p 16
Biswas himself is no Horatio Alger figure. His talents are modest, and his willingness to ingratiate himself with those who might advance his career is nonexistent. He passes from one mediocre, limited job to another. But his unwillingness to accept the limits of each current situation as permanent, to make the best of it, turns out to be his strength. Through all his misfortunes and setbacks Mr. Biswas is able to maintain the sense of himself as a man with possibilities, with options, a man who is in a position to set limits what he will put up with. And equally important, he lives in a society that will let him survive with this attitude. An African slave with these attitudes, working the same sugar cane fields as Biswas’s father and brothers did, would have been beaten to death, or starved as an outcast … But in the Trinidad of the interwar and World War II periods, options were available.