A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Owad married Dorothy’s cousin. Later that year, the new couple moved to San Fernando, a city in the South of Trinidad.
Originally, Owad criticized Dorothy’s cousin for her Canadian education; by marrying her nonetheless, he demonstrates his hypocrisy. Since he is the Tulsis’ new patriarch, it is understandable that the Epilogue opens with his fate.
Themes
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Influenced by the Americans, popular opinion on the island started to prioritize self-improvement over Community Welfare, which led to the abolition of Mr Biswas’s department and his return to the Sentinel at a lower wage than even before; his car was paid off, but now he could not even pay the interest on his house. He tried and failed to sell the car.
The American intervention in Trinidad ends up spreading the Samuel Smiles ideology of personal responsibility and hard work far and wide, replacing government provisions with capitalist industry.
Themes
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
Mr Biswas soon began to realize Shama’s “great powers of judgment,” although she falsely predicted that the debt would take care of itself while he watched it stagnate as his five-year deadline approached. He lost interest in his work, feeling that he had waited 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 in five years. Mr Biswas also worried about Anand, who occasionally wrote sardonic letters, and awaited his return.
Astonishingly, in the closing years of his life, Mr Biswas finally begins to respect and appreciate Shama, which he seemed incapable of for so long. Now that he has obtained the house he was always waiting for, Mr Biswas does not know what to do with himself—it feels as though, like his mother after his own marriage, his life’s work is complete and he might be entitled to die with satisfaction and dignity in the coming pages.
Themes
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
One afternoon, Shama rushed to the Colonial Hospital to meet Mr Biswas, who had collapsed at work—not because of his notorious stomach, but because of his heart, “about which he had never complained.” After a month, he returned to a house more luxurious and pristine than ever, although he could not climb the stairs—which was a problem because the bathroom was upstairs, and it was invariably sweltering downstairs in the afternoons. He worried about his heart, his five years, and Anand.
Curiously, Mr Biswas’s hospitalization is introduced from Shama’s perspective and not his own: his story is now a collective enterprise, carried on by others in his life, no longer self-narrated. Curiously, his injury is precisely what the solicitor’s clerk had worried about for her mother: a heart problem, likely related to climbing his house’s stairs.
Themes
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Get the entire A House for Mr Biswas LitChart as a printable PDF.
A house for mr biswas.pdf.medium
Mr Biswas eventually returned to work (although for half-pay) and started climbing steps again; he became puffy and dark, as though dying from the 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 six weeks, he came home to no warm welcome as before; he quit smoking but put on weight and started looking worse and worse, getting “more and more irritable.”
Mr Biswas’s dying does not seem to take place in his moments of acute crisis but at home, in the times between his hospital visits, as he gradually deteriorates and diminishes physically and emotionally. As an aside, V.S. Naipaul’s own correspondence with his father—no doubt the model for Anand’s letters to and from Mr Biswas in the latter’s final years—have been published as a volume and are an interesting companion read to this novel’s final pages.
Themes
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Then, Mr Biswas got fired, with three months’ notice, and felt that Anand was the only person who could possibly understand him or assuage his pain. He wrote to his son—with no reply—and then to the Colonial Office, which led Anand to reply with a short request to come home. However, he changed his mind soon thereafter.
When he loses the only job that ever rose to the level of a vocation, Mr Biswas turns to the distant son who promises to carry on his writerly ambitions; if Naipaul is Anand, this passage suggests that this novel may be his way of honoring his father and repenting for his absence at this crucial stage of life.
Themes
Education, Work, and Language 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 far more than any of his. In a letter to Anand, Mr Biswas asked, “How can you not believe in God after this?”
Savi’s return fulfills Mr Biswas’s dream to see his children succeed; her job both promises to save the family from their crippling debt and demonstrates that Mr Biswas’s investment in his children’s education has paid off.
Themes
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Colonialism, Oppression, and Escape Theme Icon
Mr Biswas always felt guilty about the “grotesque story” he wrote about a dead explorer for the Sentinel. He asked that he would be memorialized with the headline “ROVING REPORTER PASSES ON,” but the Sentinel went with “JOURNALIST DIES SUDDENLY.” Shama’s sisters and other mourners flocked to the house on Sikkim Street, testing its limits but not knocking it down. Mr Biswas was cremated next to a muddy stream, and then everyone returned home.
Fittingly, the reader does not learn exactly how or when Mr Biswas dies; while his birth is recorded only in the local register of village rumor, his death is announced through the formal channel of the media. His family, finally seeming complete in the final days of his life, comes together from around Trinidad to honor his memory and demonstrate his belonging to their social world, before returning to his greatest gift to them: a home of their own.
Themes
Independence vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Social Status and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Education, Work, and Language Theme Icon
Gender and Family Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.