A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas Characters

Mr Biswas

The novel’s protagonist, Mohun Biswas (referred to exclusively as Mr Biswas), is a cynical Indo-Trinidadian man who spends his whole life pursuing a house of his own. After being born into unlucky circumstances in a… (read full character analysis)

Shama

Shama is Mr Biswas’s wife, one of Mrs Tulsi’s fourteen daughters, and the mother of Savi, Anand, Myna, and Kamla. Mr Biswas first meets Shama when she is sixteen… (read full character analysis)

Savi

Savi is Mr Biswas’s eldest daughter, whom he intended to name “Sarojini Lakshmi Kamala Devi,” but Seth and Hari legally named “Basso” instead. While Mr Biswas lived at The Chase, she was born… (read full character analysis)

Anand

Anand is Mr Biswas and Shama’s second child and only son. Anand is three years younger than Savi and was also born while his father was absent, working at The Chase. In his… (read full character analysis)

Mrs Tulsi

The Tulsis’ authoritative and stoic matriarch, Mrs Tulsi coordinates Mr Biswas’s marriage to her daughter Shama and rules over Hanuman House, caring for her whole family despite her propensity to fainting and mysterious… (read full character analysis)
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Owad

Mrs Tulsi’s younger son, whom she coddles intensely and Mr Biswas takes to calling “the younger god.” He and Mr Biswas get into many arguments early in the book; eventually, Mr Biswas spits and… (read full character analysis)

Bipti

Mr Biswas’s selfless mother, Bipti, suffers immensely and seemingly insensibly throughout the book. After giving birth to the protagonist at her mother Bissoondaye’s hut, Bipti watches her husband, Raghu, die, her older… (read full character analysis)

Raghu

Raghu, who is Mr Biswas’s father and Bipti’s husband, is a notoriously miserly cane estate worker who buries his money in jars that nobody can find. He is not present for Mr Biswas’s… (read full character analysis)

Dehuti

Dehuti is Mr Biswas’s sister. Throughout their childhood, Dehuti and Mr Biswas play together frequently while their brothers, Prasad and Pratap, are busy working in the cane fields. After Raghu’s death, Bipti(read full character analysis)

Ramchand

Ramchand is Mr Biswas’s garrulous and confident brother-in-law and Dehuti’s husband. He is initially a yard boy at Tara’s house, but elopes with Dehuti. This horrifies the family because of his… (read full character analysis)

Tara

Tara is Bipti’s childless sister and Mr Biswas’s aunt. Tara marries the wealthy businessman Ajodha, becomes “a person of standing,” and rejects many of the orthodox Hindu practices the Tulsis (whom she… (read full character analysis)

Ajodha

Ajodha is Tara’s wealthy, scrupulous, and health-obsessed husband who always makes Mr Biswas uncomfortable. Ajodha owns a rumshop, garage, and bus service, among numerous other business ventures, and pays the young Mr Biswas to… (read full character analysis)

Seth

Seth is the most powerful and respected man in the Tulsi household, although he is actually Padma’s husband and not a Tulsi himself. He initially hires Mr Biswas to paint signs in the Tulsi… (read full character analysis)

Chinta / C

Known as “C” until she mentions her real name in the third chapter, Chinta is Shama’s sister and closest confidant in Hanuman House. Chinta is Govind’s wife and the third most powerful… (read full character analysis)

Govind

Govind is a cheery, illiterate former coconut-seller who began to work in the Tulsis’ fields after marrying Chinta. Mr Biswas’s early attempts to befriend him by complaining about the other Tulsis eventually led… (read full character analysis)

Shekhar

Shekhar is Mrs Tulsi’s beloved older son, whom Mr Biswas disparagingly calls “the elder god.” Like his younger brother Owad, he is educated at Catholic school; he has trouble finding a wife and… (read full character analysis)

Hari

A respected Tulsi brother-in-law, Hari is sickly and wise, chews his food forty times, spends inordinate amounts of time in the latrine, and spends his evenings reading Sanskrit scriptures on the verandah at Hanuman House(read full character analysis)

W.C. Tuttle

A brother-in-law who joins the family in Shorthills and loves the Western stories and novels of the American writer W.C. Tuttle; Mr Biswas soon takes to calling him W.C. Tuttle, and his real name is… (read full character analysis)

The Solicitor’s Clerk

A man who builds houses in his spare time, then lives in them with his mother until he can sell them. He builds and sells Mr Biswas the Sikkim Street house for 5,500 dollars (even… (read full character analysis)

Miss Blackie

The Tulsis’ black Catholic maid, whose real name is never revealed. Her actual job is also unclear, since the Tulsi sisters do most of the work at Hanuman House. It appears that her primary… (read full character analysis)

Pratap

Mr Biswas’s older brother, who works in the cane fields from a young age and never learns to read. When the neighbors raid his family’s garden looking for Raghu’s buried money, Pratap wants… (read full character analysis)

Dhari

A neighbor who entrusts the young Mr Biswas to care for his calf, which disappears while the protagonist is busy playing with fish in a stream and is later discovered to have died. Dhari begins… (read full character analysis)

Bhandat

Ajodha’s alcoholic brother and Jagdat and Rabidat’s father. He runs the rumshop and lets Mr Biswas stay with him for a brief time. He eventually kicks Mr Biswas out of the house after… (read full character analysis)

Jagdat

Bhandat’s melodramatic older son, who moves in with a woman of a different race and fathers a child out of wedlock at a young age. In adulthood, he always dresses in a shirt and… (read full character analysis)

Misir

A writer for the Sentinel whom Mr Biswas befriends in Arwacas. He persuades Mr Biswas to join the Aryans and, during a later visit, try his hand at writing short stories. Misir had sent… (read full character analysis)

Mungroo

The Chase’s most prominent stick-fighter, who buys everything at Mr Biswas’s shop on credit (but never pays) and leads a band of extortionists. After Mr Biswas hires Seebaran to help with his accounts… (read full character analysis)

Mr George Maclean

A builder in Green Vale who helps Mr Biswas build his first house. Maclean manages to find cheap materials for the house and works for rates so low that Mr Biswas does not understand… (read full character analysis)

Mr Burnett

An editor at the Sentinel who hires Mr Biswas—first, provisionally for a month, after watching him paint a sign, and later full-time. He asks Mr Biswas to give him “a real shock” and promotes… (read full character analysis)

Vidiadhar

Chinta and Govind’s son, who is a few months older than Anand and named after the author. At school in Port of Spain, he and Anand compete in the exhibition class; after their… (read full character analysis)

Basdai

A widow who moves into the Port of Spain house with Mr Biswas and W.C. Tuttle’s families after they return from Shorthills. She lives in the servant’s quarters, cares for the boarders who… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Padma
Padma is the second most powerful woman in the Tulsi household after her sister, Mrs Tulsi. Everyone continues to respect her, even when they ostracize her husband Seth, until her death. The family believes that her spirit visits them at Shorthills.
Myna
Mr Biswas and Shama’s second daughter, who is born at Hanuman House while Mr Biswas is living at The Chase. She becomes a laughingstock due to her bad bladder at Shorthills but later wins Mrs Tulsi’s affections when she reluctantly agrees to pick imaginary lice from her grandmother’s head.
Kamla
Mr Biswas and Shama’s youngest daughter. Mr Biswas is at Hanuman House when she is born but runs off to Port of Spain without meeting her. She is known for her sleepwalking habit.
Prasad
Mr Biswas’s other brother who, like Pratap, is illiterate and works in cane fields for most of his life.
Bissoondaye
Bipti’s mother and Mr Biswas’s grandmother, who helps make preparations for his birth.
Pundit Sitaram
The pundit who warns of Mr Biswas’s inauspicious circumstances of birth and recommends the first syllable of his name. The pundit also warns that his sneeze is unlucky, he should avoid water, and he will be his parents’ demise.
Lakhan
A carter who lives near Mr Biswas’s childhood home and repeatedly tries to dive into the lake before Raghu when Mr Biswas and Dhari’s calf disappear. Later, he also tries to dig up Raghu’s money jars.
Sadhu
An elderly neighbor who comforts and feeds Bipti and her children after Raghu’s death.
Lal
An Indian teacher and Christian convert at the Canadian Mission School who beats his students freely and looks down on Hindus.
F.Z. Ghany
A traveling solicitor who prepares a birth certificate for Mr Biswas when he needs one for school.
Pundit Jairam
A pundit who houses Mr Biswas and teaches him as an apprentice for eight months. Jairam follows controversial interpretations of Hinduism and treats Mr Biswas with cruelty and indignation, eventually kicking him out after he steals bananas and accidently throws a soiled handkerchief on a holy tree.
Soanie
Pundit Jairam’s wife.
Alec
Mr Biswas’s childhood friend at the Canadian Mission School who dresses extravagantly, takes kidney pills, and teaches the protagonist to draw beautiful letters. Later, he works in Ajodha’s garage and is always covered with grease, before switching to sign-painting and taking on Mr Biswas as an assistant.
Rabidat
Bhandat’s younger son, who (like his brother Jagdat) lives with a woman of another race and has “no one knew how many” children. He and Ajodha are proud of his muscular build; this contrasts with Mr Biswas, whose flabby muscles swing around like “hammocks.”
Pundit Tulsi
The famous father of the Tulsi clan, an important and powerful religious leader who left India under mysterious circumstances and died suddenly in a car accident in Trinidad. Pictures of him line the walls at Hanuman House, and the family practically worships him.
Pankaj Rai
An ugly Aryan man whom Mr Biswas quickly declares a “purist” pundit and begins following. Pankaj Rai later gets sent back to India after he is found “interfering with Nath’s daughter-in-law.”
Shivlochan
The pundit who takes over from Pankaj Rai, Shivlochan barely speaks English—which supposedly testifies to his incompetence—and tries to persuade Misir against advocating “conversion by the sword.”
Jai
A younger Tulsi cousin who likes to show off.
Sushila
A widowed Tulsi sister who is ostracized because of her husband’s death but still has significant power in the household—particularly by performing rituals and setting curses.
Sumati
A Tulsi sister best known for viciously flogging her children.
Moti
An old Hindu man who is at first warm but later suspicious. He approaches Mr Biswas at his store in The Chase, encourages him to contact Seebaran about his accounts, and acts as an emissary for all their business.
Seebaran
A shadowy, supposedly expert, devout Hindu lawyer. Acting through his go-between Moti, Seebaran begins to collect debt from villagers who owe Mr Biswas money—until the stick-fighter Mungroo sues Mr Biswas and bankrupts him.
Edgar
A “muscular, full-blooded Negro” worker who initially helps Mr Maclean build Mr Biswas’s house in Green Vale but does not return for the second round of building.
Tarzan
A puppy Mr Biswas adopts in Green Vale who enjoys eating local chickens’ eggs and gets mysteriously killed a few hours before a storm destroys Mr Biswas’s rudimentary house.
Dorothy
Shekhar’s Christian wife whose religion and modern ways cause extensive tension between her family and the rest of the Tulsis. After spending vacations in South America, she decides to start talking to her family in Spanish when her in-laws are around so they cannot understand her.
Miss Logie
The head of the Community Welfare Office who hires Mr Biswas and takes his family on vacation to her house in Sans Souci. She is warm, confident, and personable, which surprises and attracts Mr Biswas.