I’m curious why Naipaul characterizes the narrator’s driver as, primarily, bored. The driver shoos away the “beggar boys in jibbahs” as if waving at them, combining signals of dismissal and welcome in a single gesture. Naipaul’s narrator locates the driver’s personal history in these boys, saying he “once no doubt…had been a boy in a jibbah” (251). Even though the driver’s and beggar boys’ religious and cultural backgrounds may be similar, Naipaul suggests that the driver “had grown up differently” than the beggar boys (251). The narrator’s elaboration on this different upbringing revolves around one’s appearance/dress, and it works in tandem with the repeated mention of jibbahs. “He wore trousers and shirt and was vain of his good looks,” Naipaul writes (251).

Next, the driver’s boredom is associated even closer with geography and his environment. The narrator says of the driver, “[s]omehow in the desert he had learned boredom…bored with the antiquities, the tourists, and the tourist routine” (251). This boredom apparently motivates the driver to insist on taking the narrator to an unfamiliar little oasis. Otherwise, the driver would begin to argue with him (252). I’m interested here in the ways that Naipaul associates the driver’s boredom with the specific location at which that the narrator ends up. Moreover, because the driver is bored of “the tourists and the tourist routine,” he takes the narrator “by unfamiliar ways to a little oasis with palm trees and a large, dried up timber hut” (252). The scene abruptly changes after the narrator admits he “didn’t want to stay,” so the reader arrives at the rest-house full of tourists who speak European languages (252). So, is boredom, to Naipaul’s narrator, inefficient? The driver’s attempt to assuage his boredom by taking unfamiliar ways directly opposes his job as a driver, so much so that even his proclivity to get angry and contentious is a salve to boredom (252). I’m not sure what to make of this, but I’m curious how Naipaul figures this middle-level (not beggar boy, not businessman, but driver) boredom as dehumanizing.