Paul Theroux is a great American travel writer who wrote about his adventures into parts of the world that most Americans have never heard of. Theroux is from Medford, Massachusetts and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Theroux is part of a famous family as both of his sons are famous documentarians and he is also the uncle of famous actor Justin Theroux. In Theroux’s short story, “Trespass,” he describes his time in Malawi. Theroux was in Malawi shortly after it had gained independence. He was a member of the Peace Corps and was assigned to work as a teacher in Malawi. Theroux was one of the first members of the Peace Corps as it had just been established in 1961 where his travels took place in 1963.
Around Christmas time, Theroux decided to travel to neighboring Zambia and go to a local bar. At this bar, there were only two other attendees, a man and his sister who Theroux mistook for his wife. The man told Theroux that his sister “likes you very much” (Theroux). Theroux let his lust take over and went with these strangers on a long taxi ride to their home. Theroux and the woman made love, however, the next morning when he attempted to leave, both the woman and her brother would not let Theroux leave. They made him go the bar again because it was Christmas. Once again, Theroux returned with the woman, made love, and was forced to go to the bar again the next day for Boxing Day. He was now stuck in a vicious cycle where he was being forced to stay in this village. The longer he was there, the more Theroux realized how messed up of a situation it was. The two Zambians started to become more aggressive towards him, the thought of sex started to become more frightening, the food was bad, the hut was rundown, the drinking was making him ill, he was giving them all of his money, they spoke a language that he did not understand, and that he really had no way out. He was now a captive. The next day at the bar Theroux realized he had to try and escape. He attempted to use the outdoor restroom when the girl tried to send a man out there with him to make sure he did not escape. She stated, “he will not come back,” knowing exactly what his intentions were. Theroux left his jacket and some cash for them to show that he would return, once outside, he ran quickly down the street until he could grab a cab out of the village.
Theroux had let his guard down and let lust get the best of him. This moment of weakness led him to a place where he was lucky to escape from. He states at the end that this moment was the one that scared him the most on his journey and made him feel the most “American.” Theroux did indeed become an American tourist through his actions, he mistook hostility for kindness and ended up in a vicious cycle for it.