A House for Mr Biswas

by

V. S. Naipaul

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A House for Mr Biswas Terms

Dhoti

Knee-length cloth pants traditionally worn by Indian men. read analysis of Dhoti

Brahmin

The traditional Hindu caste of teachers, scholars, and religious leaders. read analysis of Brahmin

Pundit

A wise Brahmin scholar and ceremonial leader. read analysis of Pundit

Puja

Hindu prayer rituals. read analysis of Puja

Hanuman House

The Tulsis’ massive “alien white fortress” in the town of Arwacas, which has a partially visible statue of “the benevolent monkey-god Hanuman” on the roof. The house has three parts: the Tulsi Store downstairs… read analysis of Hanuman House
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Ceylon

The colonial term for Sri Lanka, used by the Tulsis to refer to their backyard. read analysis of Ceylon

Aryans

A term for the ancient Indian aristocracy that has been widely appropriated to other contexts. Mr Biswas joins the “Arwacas Aryan Association,” a group fighting against many orthodox tenets of the Hinduism practiced by… read analysis of Aryans

Ague

An acute or intermittent fever, especially malaria. read analysis of Ague

Thaumaturge

A miracle worker. read analysis of Thaumaturge

Scarlet Pimpernel

A character invented by the British-Hungarian novelist Baroness Orczy who wore a disguise and saved French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French Revolution. The Scarlet Pimpernel became a common reference for characters who perform… read analysis of Scarlet Pimpernel

Saman Tree

A species of large, flowering tree, often called a rain tree or monkey-pod tree, with a relatively narrow trunk but an extremely wide canopy. read analysis of Saman Tree

Ramayana

One of the two primary ancient Hindu epics in Sanskrit. read analysis of Ramayana

Samuel Smiles

A Scottish writer, journalist, and reformer famous for his tales of people finding success through hard work, defense of free-market capitalism, and belief that poverty was the result of irresponsibility. Mr Biswas reads his work… read analysis of Samuel Smiles

Epictetus

An important ancient Greek Stoic philosopher and slave who argued that people can live happily and more virtuously by limiting their investment in events over which they have no control and recognizing their responsibility over… read analysis of Epictetus

Marcus Aurelius

A Roman emperor best known for writing the Meditations, a journal of practical exercises derived from Stoic philosophy and especially Epictetus, whom Mr Biswas reads throughout his life. read analysis of Marcus Aurelius

Charles Dickens

A famous Victorian English novelist, to whom V.S. Naipaul is often compared, best known for writing social commentary. Mr Biswas discovered that reading Dickens “ridiculed and diminished” his own struggles in life, motivating him to read analysis of Charles Dickens

Gospo

An orange-lemon hybrid or “sour orange.” read analysis of Gospo

Port of Spain

The capital and main city in Trinidad, where Mrs Tulsi brings Owad for his schooling and Mr Biswas later moves and buys his house. Compared to the other places where he lives, Port of Spain… read analysis of Port of Spain

Pagotes

The fictional town to which Mr Biswas moves after his father’s death. Tara and her relatives live here. read analysis of Pagotes

Arwacas

A fictional town, named after the indigenous Arawak people and based on V.S. Naipaul’s childhood home of Chaguanas, where the Tulsi family lives in Hanuman House. read analysis of Arwacas

The Chase

A remote village, with only two rumshops and some food shops and surrounded by sugarcane fields, where Mr Biswas operates a store for six years. read analysis of The Chase

Green Vale

A fictional estate near Arwacas where Mr Biswas oversees estate workers for Seth and builds his first house. read analysis of Green Vale

Shorthills

A fictional town, located in a lush valley among the hills of Trinidad’s Northern Range, where the Tulsis move after leaving Hanuman House and Mr Biswas builds and burns down his second house. read analysis of Shorthills

Sans Souci

A beach town on the northeastern coast of Trinidad where Miss Logie takes Mr Biswas and his family for a week’s vacation after he starts work at the Community Welfare Department. read analysis of Sans Souci

Tobago

Trinidad’s smaller and much less populated sister island. read analysis of Tobago