The White Tiger

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The matriarch of Balram’s family, his grandmother Kusum runs the household according to tough, traditional Indian family values. Primarily concerned with the family’s short-term financial solvency, Kusum removes her young relatives from school prematurely to work and marries them off as children, compromising their long-term ability to support themselves and their families. Though she agrees to send Balram to driving school, she does so on the condition that Balram send home his earnings each month. Even after Balram moves away, Kusum exerts her influence from afar by sending him threatening letters and eventually his young cousin Dharam, who she demands he care for in Delhi. As Balram sees it, Kusum is completely dominated by the logic of the Rooster Coop: she has struggled her whole life to survive under the burden of such great oppression, that she does not know any better and unconsciously brings her family down with her.
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Kusum Character Timeline in The White Tiger

The timeline below shows where the character Kusum appears in The White Tiger. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The First Night
The Self-Made Man Theme Icon
Social Breakdown, Self-Interest, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
His intuition proves correct. Balram’s grandmother Kusum takes out a loan from the Stork, one of the four village landlords, to pay... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Second Night
The Self-Made Man Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
After Balram’s father’s death, Kusum arranges Kishan’s marriage to a local girl in exchange for a large dowry, and then... (full context)
Education Theme Icon
Morality and Indian Society Theme Icon
...by private drivers, Balram begs his family to pay for him to take driving lessons. Kusum Granny eventually agrees, so long as Balram promises to send the family his monthly earnings... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...the Wild Boar in his beautiful home, Balram visits with his own family. During lunch, Kusum nags him for neglecting to send money, while praising his success and threatening to arrange... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Fifth Night
Social Breakdown, Self-Interest, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...help Ashok through his separation from Pinky, and also bearing a letter to Balram from Kusum Granny. Ashok and the Mongoose read aloud the letter, in which Kusum urges Balram to... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sixth Night
Family Theme Icon
...room where –to his great surprise—he finds his young cousin Dharam. Balram then learns that Kusum sent Dharam to Delhi for Balram to mentor, along with a letter threatening to arrange... (full context)
Education Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Morality and Indian Society Theme Icon
...Balram regain consciousness from his faint, and Balram crying out that an apology to his Kusum Granny, but that he cannot keep living in a cage all his life. He orders... (full context)