A Conflict between Self and World in Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint


  • Aujo Philip J.M
  • C. Govindaraj




Self, Moral, Dilemma, Individualism, Sexuality, Memory


This study discerns Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth concerning the struggle between self and world. Roth’s protagonists want a haven of protection and stability, or a home, from which they may interpret the world meaningfully. In addition to this, they require stability and repose in the achievement of selfhood. Their home may be their static, centred self, from which they could get meaning from their surroundings. In the novel Portnoy’s Complaint, the protagonist faces external and internal and selfversus-world conflicts. It is discovered that Portnoy conflicts with his Jewish family, a microcosm of the ethnic group to which he belongs. He incorrectly feels that his ethnicity is the core reason for his alienated feelings. In addition, he is troubled by the contradiction between his moral convictions and his sexual indulgence. His difficulties remain unanswered until the novel’s conclusion, even though he begins comprehending the actual nature of his moral issue. In his exploration of the never-ending and, maybe, the insoluble issue between man and his fundamental desires, Roth delves into the simple mind of his species to bring to light the unfathomable, grotesque, and frightening realities of human drives and experiences. This skill lends his compositions a worldwide appeal that transcends ethnic and racial distinctions. All the characters in the narrative are banished from themselves and arrive in the brave new world of choice, America, representing a domestic transgression.