A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas

Savi Character Analysis

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 at Hanuman House, where her mother and aunts cared dearly for her, and her father barely visited her until she was old enough to go to school. In an attempt to “claim” her, Mr Biswas buys her an extravagant dollhouse for a month’s wages one Christmas, but Shama quickly dismantles it after it causes too much infighting among the sisters and children. Mr Biswas brings her to Green Vale afterwards, but she has nothing to do there and nothing in common with her father, so she quickly returns home to Hanuman House. Eventually, however, she takes a liking to Port of Spain and moves there enthusiastically, coming to see herself as superior to her backwards cousins in the countryside. At first, she is confident, proud, and mean to her “coward” brother Anand, but eventually she becomes meek and self-effacing, particularly after embarrassing the family during a singing performance and finding school more difficult than Anand. She goes abroad to study on scholarship and returns in the Epilogue; she grows very close to her dying father, finds a lucrative job, and appears poised to save the family’s finances at the end of the book.

Savi Quotes in A House for Mr Biswas

The A House for Mr Biswas quotes below are all either spoken by Savi or refer to Savi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A House for Mr Biswas published in 2001.
Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

Real calling name: Lakshmi. Signed by Mohun Biswas, father.

Related Characters: Mr Biswas, Shama, Savi, Seth, Hari
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

It was now that he began to speak to his children of his childhood. He told them of the hut, the men digging in the garden at night; he told them of the oil that was later found on the land. What fortune might have been theirs, if only his father had not died, if only he had stuck to the land like his brothers, if he had not gone to Pagotes, not become a sign-writer, not gone to Hanuman House, not married! If only so many things had not happened!

Related Characters: Mr Biswas, Savi, Anand, Raghu, Myna, Kamla
Page Number: 421
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr Biswas went past Dehuti to look at the body. Then he did not wish to see it again. But always, as he wandered about the yard among the mourners, he was aware of the body. He was oppressed by a sense of loss: not of present loss, but of something missed in the past. He would have liked to be alone, to commune with this feeling. But time was short, and always there was the sight of Shama and the children, alien growths, alien affections, which fed on him and called him away from that part of him which yet remained purely himself, that part which had for long been submerged and was now to disappear.

Related Characters: Mr Biswas, Shama, Savi, Anand, Bipti, Dehuti
Page Number: 461
Explanation and Analysis:
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Savi Character Timeline in A House for Mr Biswas

The timeline below shows where the character Savi appears in A House for Mr Biswas. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 4: The Chase
Gender and Family Theme Icon
In fact, the baby was a girl, healthy and already named Savi when Mr Biswas reached her in Mrs Tulsi’s Rose Room in the Hanuman House. His... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...solemnly ate sulphur and condensed milk for their “eggzema.” Mrs Tulsi asked Mr Biswas about Savi and let out a string of “simple, unconnected statements” that built to a “puzzling profundity”... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
After three lonely weeks, Shama and Savi returned; Mr Biswas delightedly resumed living “without having to assert his rights or explain his... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...left for the back room, where she sang a cremation song and prepared to take Savi to Hanuman House. After her departure, Mr Biswas watched his creditors return from the fields,... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...a son, whom Mr Biswas agreed to name Anand at Seth’s behest, three years after Savi, who stayed at the Tulsis’ house. He visited her every week, asking prying questions, like... (full context)
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...glad to hear that “the widow” had begun “inflicting spectacular punishments on her bereaved children.” Savi, too, celebrated their mistreatment even as Mr Biswas tried to convince her to return home.... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...not by chaos but by a strict hierarchy: Padma ruled above Chinta, who superseded Shama, Savi, and then himself at the bottom. He realized that the adults valued the children as... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...surprised to see him.” He noticed new children who moved in after their father died. Savi mentioned that she had not seen her father “for a long time,” as well as... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Myna slept, and her parents walked past the children, including Savi, playing their new card and board games on the verandah. Shama said that Mrs Tulsi... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...morning, the mothers were preparing their children for school, and Mr Biswas suddenly realized that Savi had started going, too. Shama made Savi tie her shoes and Mr Biswas offered to... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5: Green Vale
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
As Christmas approached and Mr Biswas’s old, jovial signs hung around the area, Savi wondered whether the same father she knew could have painted them. At Christmastime the Tulsi... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...and still bought nothing for his son. This was as usual, for he truly knew Savi but “Anand belonged completely to the Tulsis.” The Tulsis already knew about the dollhouse, and... (full context)
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...felt disappointed in Anand, who was small, shy, and anxious around his father. He implored Savi to let Anand play with the dolhouse too. Anand asked Mr Biswas for a car... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
Mr Biswas began to cycle toward Green Vale, with Savi balanced on the crossbar, until “a Negro policeman” stopped them on the road and gave... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
That Saturday, Shama, Anand, and Myna came with Seth to fetch Savi. While doing his usual work with Seth, Mr Biswas heard Savi chat excitedly with her... (full context)
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
...the sisters were angry about the dollhouse, beating their children whenever they even talked to Savi. She “had to satisfy them.” He asked whether “Chinta would break up a dolly-house Govind... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Shama asked how Savi acted during her week at Green Vale and was delighted to hear that she threw... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...and his family started taunting him about it. This infuriated Mr Biswas, and he told Savi to call the rest of the Tulsis crab-catchers. Chinta and Mr Biswas argued—she wondered if... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
One day, Mr Biswas found Anand kneeling in a corner of a room because, as Savi revealed, he was ashamed that he was too afraid to go to the “nasty, stinking”... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
...he went there, only to see that the iron in question was rusted and misshapen. Savi and Anand questioned whether it would suffice, but Seth lowered the price from five to... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Anand, Savi, and Shama came on a lorry with the corrugated iron that weekend; none of the... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...In the next, from atop a hill, he saw a crying woman—who was “Shama, Anand, Savi, his mother [Bipti]”—seeking help but wanted her to go away. Tarzan was outside the door... (full context)
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
...and he screamed and cried as he tried to push himself through it. With Tarzan, Savi, and Anand right below him, he tried to kick Shama and struck her in the... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...he would stay, and then nothing more. Holding Myna, Shama walked to the road with Savi. Mr Biswas offered to give the crayons to Anand, who refused. When Mr Biswas asked... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: A Departure
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...Tulsis hung the aloe and black doll, and then moved in Mr Biswas’s still-soaked furniture. Savi was frustrated that the children “misused” the rocking chair by fighting to pull one another... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1: “Amazing Scenes”
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
The furniture moved yet again, finding ample space in its new home. Anand and Savi were reluctant to move, but after an initial visit Savi began to love the city’s... (full context)
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...story for the class; Mr Biswas became angry and beat him until Shama intervened, and Savi threatened to return to the Tulsis. At dinner, Anand pulled Mr Biswas’s chair out from... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2: The New Régime
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
...all pitied Shekhar for having married her, but Mr Biswas always got along with her. Savi no longer wanted to return to Hanuman House for Christmas. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: The Shorthills Adventure
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
...disliked his “weak” sisters. Myna had “a bad bladder,” and the young Kamla started sleepwalking. Savi became a source of humiliation for the family after botching a singing performance at school... (full context)
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
One night, Anand discovered Savi’s birth certificate—listing her real name, Basso, and Mr Biswas’s name for her, Lakshmi—alongside various photographs... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
...the children to beat the fire back, and they walked to the road. Anand and Savi left the crying Myna and Kamla and repeated “Rama Rama” as they walked down the... (full context)
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Savi and Anand “heard a heavy breathing,” which turned out to be a mule following them,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: The Void
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
...he did not save as much money as he wanted to; he spent it on Savi’s schooling and better food, Anand’s asthma treatment and higher-quality suits for himself, which he quickly... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
...was still relieved. He thought about his children’s futures and particularly lamented his neglect of Savi, who “had grown reserved and grave.” He realized that he “missed their childhoods.” (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: The Revolution
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
Immediately, Anand, Savi, and Myna approached Mr Biswas with tales of “Owad’s adventures in England”—his rescue efforts during... (full context)
Epilogue
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...for something better all his life and now lacked anything to wait for—“except the children.” Savi and Anand both went abroad for school, which eliminated any possibility of repaying the debt... (full context)
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
...inside out. Soon, he was back in the hospital, his condition much worse than before. Savi promptly wrote to announce her return, and Anand sent another “strange, maudlin, useless letter.” After... (full context)
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Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
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Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
“Everything seemed to grow bright” at the very end: Savi came back to an outpouring of love from Mr Biswas and a job that paid... (full context)