Chapter 1 In chapter one of Kiran Desai’s novel, “The Inheritance of Loss,” the author describes the setting and presents the first perspectives of the characters. Their home is presented as being rather unattractive as it was colder inside their house than outside of it even the temperature was relatively low. Further, when the author presents the cook’s difficulty of trying to light damp wood for the purpose of making tea in a kettle that looks to have been found in an archeological dig, shows the living conditions of the setting. However, the Judge still expects the cook to be able to cook with out gas and over a fire the old fashion way in order to maintain his routine schedule. He still expects this even when there is no food and then forces the cook to make something out of nothing.
Kiran Desai’s use of nature emphasizes her use of anthropomorphism to present a situation which allows for the events of the novel to flow smoothly. The author first presents this when Sai is reading about giant Squid from a “National Geographic” when “the caress of the mist through her hair seemed human, and when she held her fingers, the vapor took them gently into its mouth. It is this anthropomorphism during teatime when the boys from the Kathmandu black market find the opportunity to creep up to the Judges house in search of guns and supplies, where mutt initially frightens the boys. The boys remain persistent even when the judge tells them that he has no guns and demand that they be fed before they continue of their journey. The boys are disappointed at the lack of food which further demonstrates the living conditions of this setting.
Chapter 2 The chapter starts from the cook’s perspective as he is trying to justify why going to the police to report the robbery at Cho Oyu would do any good. The cook explains that if the police were being paid off by the robbers they would do nothing but if they were not then the robbers, who now had weapons, would come for revenge against him and the other members at Cho Oyu. The cook does not believe that there is any benefit to reporting the robbery. The police do take action as there was a robbery of guns from a previous member of the judiciary and the police arrived at Cho Oyu later that day to search the property, collect evidence, and interview the members of the family. The police looked around and were not impressed by the condition of Cho Oyu. The police proceeded to the cook’s hut where they looked through the cook’s belongings, what little belongings he has. Sai felt very sad at the sight of the cooks hut, how little he had and how his privacy had been violated by the police as they searched through every little corner of the cook’s hut and read letters that had been sent by Biju.
Other less important parts of this chapter include the brief history of Cho Oyu and the cook’s encounter with the black cobras. We learn that Cho Oyu was built by a Scotsman long ago. In order to build Cho Oyu, porters had carried boulders from the riverbed and piping, wrought iron gates, tiling, and tubing were all brought in to create what the Scotsman believed was a place that could raise the human heart to spiritual heights. The cook’s encounter with the cobras had happened when one time, defeated by a rotten egg, had proceeded to defecate behind the house instead of his usual place at the far end of the garden. In doing so, the cook had angered two snakes, who lived in a hole nearby. Although the cook was not bitten, he swelled up to ten times his size and so he went to the temple where he was instructed to ask of forgiveness from the snakes. He did so by creating a clay cobra and cleaning the area with cow dung.
In this chapter, we also learn some characteristics of the cook and Biju, that he is powerless, can barely read or write, he has worked hard all his life, has avoided trouble, and lives only to see his son. We also learn that the cook’s wife died seventeen year prior when Biju was only five years old. His wife had slipped from a tree while collecting leaves for the goat, an accident. We also learn some of Biju’s characteristics in this chapter including his good nature and his fearless personality.
Chapter 3 This chapter portrays the cook’s son, Biju, working at a hot dog restaurant in New York, USA. The other employees try and convince Biju to use the services of Dominican prostitutes but Biju is very timid about this idea. To mask this feeling from the other employees he portrays a fake sense of disgust at this idea. Biju feels, “several years younger” (p 16) than the other workers because of this. Then, the manager of the restaurant receives a memo instructing him to go a green card check on his employees. He tells his employees that there is nothing that he can do, and they disappear quietly.
Chapter 4 This chapter starts with the police still at the judge’s property and they are searching through the cook’s house for any evidence that it was the servant that robbed the judge. The police find the letters that Biju has been writing to the cook, which describe the different jobs he has been working at, and he describes a false sense of excellence of his new life in America. The cook writes back to his son, advising him to save his money, beware of liars and cheats, and to stay healthy. He also says if he has any problems to talk to Nandu, who is another man from their village who is also in New York.
Then we get a recount of a story where the judge gets a coupon for a National Geographic Inflatable Globe. Sai fills it out and mails the coupon away, and the Globe comes in the mail long after they had mailed it away. Sai blows it up, and she shows the cook where New York is, and tries to explain to him why it is day there when it is night in India.
The police continue searching the cook’s house, exposing his poverty and that his dignity has no basis. The cook justifies this treatment because they need to search everything, and that it is usually the servant who steals. The policemen then leave the property, and Sai is embarrassed for the cook to have this poverty exposed. Sai remembers when she first met the cook nine years about when she first arrived to live with the judge. Sai expresses her displeasure at the way the police treated the cook, but the cook responds with, “But what kind of investigation would it be, then?” The chapter ends with the cook cleaning up his belongings, putting them back in the same place.
Chapter 5 In this chapter, we are introduced to Biju’s different places of employment in America and of the different races represented in each. Firstly, The Baby Bistro where it was French in the restaurant but Mexican, Indian and Pakistani in the kitchen. Then, there was the Baby Bistro which was rich up top and poor down below. At the Baby Bistro, some of the poor ethnicities present included Colombian, Tunisian, Ecuadorian, and Gambian. At the Stars and Stripes Diner, it was all American in the diner but all Guatemalan below, plus Indian when Biju arrived. At all of these different places of employment with all of the different cultures, Biju found himself asking where the different places were. It was through his questioning that he learnt that there are Indians spread out all over the world.
After learning of the different cultures present in Biju’s different places of employment, the cooks warns him to be careful of the Pakistani in particular. The cook does not feel that they are to be trusted. Biju has already received a negative vibe from the Pakistani and felt that he was unable to talk to the man as he felt that he was fake. Biju found himself fighting with the Pakistani, Desis against Pakis, and because of the noise that the two created, both of them were fired from the Baby Bistro.
Chapter 6 In this chapter we find out that Sai’s parents are dead. We learn how they met, by a tree while Sai’s mother was at collage, and her father was in the air force. They had got married and had Sai, however Sai’s father was picked to go to Russia, to become a space pilot, furthermore Sai had to be left behind, so she was sent to the convent that her mother had attended. However while in Russia, Sai’s parents were killed when they were run over by a tourist bus.
Also in the chapter we find out how Sai comes to be living with her grandfather. As we know Sai was at the convent, but when her parents died there was no one left to pay for her to stay at the convent. So the nuns looked through their information, and the name under “in case of an emergency” was Sai’s grandfather, Justice Jemubhai Patel. So Sai was sent with a visiting nun, to Kalimpong, where her grandfather lived.
Additionally we learn how Cho Oyu was built. It was built by a Scotsman who said it was a very good location to build a house, however this was not why the judge wanted the house built there, it was built there because it was a place that the judge could live.
Chapter 7 The cook welcomes Sai by constructing a motorcar modeled out of mashed potatoes; a skill in which the cook had not used in a while. The car acted as a center piece for the table, as to state that the purpose of the evening was to welcome Sai. However, initially the Judge shows no apparent knowledge of Sai’s arrival or her presence at the very table. This changes, and the Judge asks for Sai to tell him what her name is, which seems to actually anger the judge. Later when Sai complements mutt the Judge avoids his expression of the complement and instead demands that the soup be presented to him. When the Judge realizes that the soup is not ready be becomes very frustrated that his routine has been upset.
The cook describes how poverty stricken he is and what he has to work with. While eating the Judge discusses with himself how Sai has a tutor and the disadvantages of the other forms of schooling and the affects that types of schooling can have on you. Later on when Sai is lying in her bed, which demonstrates the poverty as her sheets are table clothes since there are no blankets left. Poverty is further presented when Sai comments of the structure of the house and how it seems to be fragile. Suddenly Sai hears microscopic jaws munching on the house which could destroy the house in a season.
With the arrival of Sai, the judge kept thinking about his past, annoyed with the similarities of Sai’s loneliness and his own. The judge was only nineteen when he left Piphit, his ancestral home to study at Cambridge, in England. At the time the future judge was called Jemu which was a nickname of his real name, Jemubhai. Jemubhai was a one-month married man to a fourteen year old girl, whom he was to leave for some years. With his arrival to England, he was amazed with the sights he greeted though over time things changed, not to a better situation yet he did not lose his courage. In England, he was isolated, different, lonely and reaching madness as his antisocial behaviors increased, while avoiding light to hide from others. His ideas also began to develop a in a new way of self disgust, and embarrassment.
Judge insisted that Sai must have a tutor; therefore she came to meet Noni whose house was an hour far. Noni and her sister, Lola possessed a cat named Mustafa and a guard, a retired army man named Budhoo. With the suspense of trusting a man with no clear vision of stealing their possessions or lives, they found him necessary for guarding their house. They both were a fan of the English culture. Lola had a daughter named Pixie which perhaps is the BBC radio reporter, who inspires them to listen to radio at nights.
Biju on the other side of the world in United States attempted everyday to find better jobs though his lack of self-respect did not prosper his standings. He started working at Freddy’s Work delivering food with a bicycle. He worked for long hours and when arrived home, in the basement of a building where among other illegal fellows he lived under cruel condition. Later he loses his job as Saeed Saeed whose grandmother was Indian.
The cook considered with Biju’s condition in USA, sold alcoholic beverages called chhang. The cook was not satisfied with his salary from the judge; he felt rage inside himself serving Judge’s family. Despite the rage, the cook lied about Judge’s lost glory; he praised him in front of others, attempting to make himself seem worthier. Sai was a follower of the cook’s stories as she sat in the kitchen asking questions about judge and his wife who passed away. Judge able to hear the stories, was annoyed of his past, the truth that he knew of and the lies that cook told. He was raised with hardship during his childhood. One thing calmed him down and it was his schedule of everyday life and being on task.
Courtney from Study Moose
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