The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

Biju Character Analysis

The cook’s son. At the cook’s urging, Biju travels to New York City in order to earn money and make a better life for the family’s future generations. He hops from one restaurant job to another, either due to green card inspections, customer complaints about his smell, or his own distaste for the business owners and customers. He comes to confront his own bias in globalized America when he meets Saeed Saeed, a Pakistani man he admires. Biju also recognizes his own values: he quits his job at a restaurant that serves steak because he realizes that he needs to live according to the principles of his family and his religion. This then brings him to the Gandhi Café, where he meets Harish-Harry. Biju is optimistic and at times gullible, but he also becomes worn down by the life of an illegal immigrant in New York City, whom he calls a “shadow class.” Eventually Biju becomes so exhausted from being overworked and taken advantage of that he decides to return to India, even though he knows he will likely disappoint his father. Biju thus embodies the yearning for home that many of the characters experience.

Biju Quotes in The Inheritance of Loss

The The Inheritance of Loss quotes below are all either spoken by Biju or refer to Biju. 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:
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Inheritance of Loss published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

An accident, they said, and there was nobody to blame—it was just fate in the way fate has of providing the destitute with a greater quota of accidents for which nobody can be blamed.

Related Characters: Sai, Biju, The Cook
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

This habit of hate had accompanied Biju, and he found that he possessed an awe of white people, who arguably had done India great harm, and a lack of generosity regarding almost everyone else, who had never done a single harmful thing to India.

Related Characters: Biju, Saeed Saeed
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 17 Quotes

The more pampered you are the more pampered you will be the more presents you receive the more presents you will get the more presents you receive the more you are admired the more you will be admired the more you are admired the more presents you will get the more pampered you will be—

Related Characters: Biju, The Cook
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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You lived intensely with others, only to have them disappear overnight, since the shadow class was condemned to movement. The men left for other jobs, towns, got deported, returned home, changed names. […] The emptiness Biju felt returned to him over and over, until eventually he made sure not to let friendships sink deep anymore.

Related Characters: Biju, Saeed Saeed
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 22 Quotes

One should not give up one’s religion, the principles of one’s parents and their parents before them. No, no matter what. […] Those who could see a difference between a holy cow and an unholy cow would win. Those who couldn’t see it would lose.

Related Characters: Biju
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 48 Quotes

He felt everything shifting and clicking into place around him, felt himself slowly shrink back to size, the enormous anxiety of being a foreigner ebbing—that unbearable arrogance and shame of the immigrant.

Related Characters: Biju
Page Number: 330
Explanation and Analysis:
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Biju Character Timeline in The Inheritance of Loss

The timeline below shows where the character Biju appears in The Inheritance of Loss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
...and joints, thinking that he might as well be dead, if not for his son Biju who lives in America. Sai takes the tea to the judge, who grumbles that there... (full context)
Chapter 2
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...and would likely expect a bribe. As he goes, the cook thinks of his son, Biju, and of the 250 rupees he had hidden in his hut before moving it to... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...two photographs on the wall: one of the cook and his wife, and one of Biju. She thinks to herself that they are “poor-people photographs” because they are standing stiff and... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
The cook’s wife had died seventeen years earlier, when Biju was five. She had fallen from a tree gathering leaves to feed the goat—an incident... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Sai remembers how the cook would often describe how Biju was naughty but had a good nature. He had beamed with pride when recounting how... (full context)
Chapter 3
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The narrative jumps to Biju, who is working at a restaurant called Gray’s Papaya in the heart of Manhattan, New... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...restaurant employees invite him to “visit” the Dominican women in Washington Heights for thirty-five dollars. Biju is timid and feigns disgust. Each time they ask him, he thinks of an excuse... (full context)
Chapter 4
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The cook is sure that because Biju is cooking American food, he has a higher position than if he were cooking Indian... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...hut in order to complete their investigation. He collects the letters, hoping that one day Biju will find some pride in seeing them after accomplishing so much. (full context)
Chapter 5
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
The chapter opens with descriptions of different restaurants through which Biju has cycled: a French bistro (staffed by Mexicans and Indians); a “colonial” restaurant (staffed by... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju doesn’t know how to handle the people working in the kitchens and their different nationalities,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
...cuisine is being made by Indians, Algerians, and Moroccans. The owner of the restaurant fires Biju. (full context)
Chapter 10
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Biju’s second year in America begins at Pinocchio’s Italian restaurant. The owner’s wife complains that he... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Biju looks for another job. He finds one at Freddy’s Wok because he can ride a... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
At the time, Biju is living in the basement of a building in Harlem. The superintendent supplements his income... (full context)
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As winter falls, people start to complain that the food Biju delivers is cold. More than the food, Biju himself starts to freeze, and one day... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
By the time Biju finds his next job at a bakery called the Queen of Tarts, he has spent... (full context)
Chapter 11
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...market to sell his chhang (liquor). He had started the business on the side for Biju’s sake, because the judge refused to give him a substantial raise throughout his years of... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
The cook had entered this underground business for Biju, but also for himself, as he strived for modernity: toaster ovens, electric shavers, and watches. (full context)
Chapter 12
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai explains that the cook talks about his wife and Biju, and about their family affairs and finances. Noni believes that it is inappropriate for servants... (full context)
Chapter 14
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju goes to the Queen of Tarts bakery at 4:25 A.M., watching for police who might... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju admires Saeed, even though he is Muslim. Biju sees that Saeed isn’t “drowning” being an... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Biju realizes that he has been in awe of white people, who have arguably done India... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
By 6 A.M., the shelves at the bakery are stocked. One day, Biju sits outside, eating a roll. As ambulances and police cars pass, he can’t help but... (full context)
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the cook is writing a letter to Biju, asking if he might be able to help a friend whose son wants to go... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...but Indians are not allowed to apply. Not having a green card presses constantly on Biju’s mind. After work, he walks down to the river and looks out at New Jersey.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Back in Kalimpong, the cook reads a letter from Biju explaining that he has gotten a new job in a bakery. The cook recalls that... (full context)
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Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...into town, passing the Travel Agency and wondering when he might be able to visit Biju. He tells Mrs. Sen about Biju’s new job. She has a child in America as... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
The cook goes to buy potatoes from an attractive girl. He wonders if Biju would like her, thinking about how her father is making money, but also that money... (full context)
Chapter 17
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Back in New York City, Biju begins to feel overwhelmed by the amount of people asking for his help. Saeed understands... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju feels sympathy for Saeed, knowing that he also has many people looking for his help.... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Biju wants to leave, but also wants a green card so that he can have the... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Saeed brings Biju to Washington Heights, having found out about “the van.” They wait on a street corner... (full context)
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...loaf. A team of health inspectors arrive. The Queen of Tarts bakery is closed, and Biju loses his job. The owner of the store yells profanities at his employees. (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...whose name is “synonymous with colonial exploitation and the rapacious ruin of the third world.” Biju knows he probably won’t see Saeed again, as addresses, phone numbers, and jobs rarely remain... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
That night Biju thinks of his village, where he had lived with his grandmother while the cook worked... (full context)
Chapter 18
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the cook sits in his own hut, opening two letters from Biju. The first letter’s ink has completely washed away. The second letter does not reveal much... (full context)
Chapter 19
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Saeed Saeed runs into Biju and tells him that he has left Banana Republic and gotten married to a woman... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Biju now works in Brigitte’s, an upscale restaurant in the financial district. In the morning, the... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...in the streets. He wants a green card for revenge, even though he hates America. Biju comes to think that the more he hates America sometimes, the more he wants a... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The restaurant serves steak, and Biju is unhappy serving it. He is particularly frustrated when he sees other Indians eating steak,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju learns to sear steaks for the businessmen who come to the restaurant talking about the... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju’s first question at his next interviews is whether or not the restaurant serves steak. His... (full context)
Chapter 24
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...they can cut the pay to a quarter of minimum wage and reclaim the tips. Biju leaves the basement in Harlem and sets up a new life at the Café—but he... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...was going to wipe his ass. He had been devastated and got drunk, crying on Biju’s shoulder and dreaming of revenge on American culture. (full context)
Chapter 30
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...and harder to buy because of the strikes. He has a sudden panic, thinking that Biju might be dead. (full context)
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...falling from a tree, his village had warned that her ghost was threatening to take Biju with her because she had died violently. The cook asked the judge to let him... (full context)
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The cook first tried to send Biju abroad when a recruiting agent for a cruise ship line appeared in Kalimpong. Biju interviewed,... (full context)
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Two weeks later, Biju traveled to Kathmandu for the training, only to find out that he had been cheated.... (full context)
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Biju’s second attempt to go to America involved applying for a tourist visa. Biju had gone... (full context)
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Biju observed as the people behind the glass asked rude questions: “Can you prove to us... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Biju and the others had then been surprised to see an African-American woman behind the counter.... (full context)
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Biju watched as those who had large homes, wore jeans, and spoke English tried to separate... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju approached the window and answered the questions directly and politely. He lied and said he... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju had reveled in this title. He walked through a park, chased a cow, and did... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
A little over three years after Biju received his visa, he slips on some rotten spinach in the Ghandi Café and his... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Harish-Harry is outraged. He yells at Biju, saying that he has taken him in without papers, housed him, and now he is... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
After two weeks, Biju is able to walk with a stick. Two more weeks, and he is no longer... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Saeed Saeed runs into Biju on the street, and now he speaks much better English and owns twenty-five pairs of... (full context)
Chapter 36
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
A newsagent who knows Biju informs him of the strikes brought on by the Nepalis. Biju had attributed the break... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The next day, Biju tries to call his father at a place up the road from Cho Oyu, saying... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
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Biju calls again and the cook answers. They yell over the phone, trying to compensate for... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Biju returns to the Ghandi Café. Harish-Harry shows the staff pictures of the condo in New... (full context)
Chapter 41
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Biju grows more and more concerned about the cook in Kalimpong. He looks out over the... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju walks back to the Gandhi Café, thinking about how his life isn’t amounting to anything.... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju buys various appliances and souvenirs to bring back to India. As he shops, he remembers... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...had room for everyone. He feels as though he no longer belongs, and questions whether Biju really exists. (full context)
Chapter 45
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...Delhi, and finally Calcutta. The air in the plane becomes thick from food and cigarettes. Biju begins to imagine returning to the U.S. and beginning again, buying a taxi. (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju plays a scene of meeting his father again and again in his head, and weeps... (full context)
Chapter 48
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The Gulf Air flight lands in Calcutta’s airport. Biju looks out over the unruly crowd, filled with a variety of people returning to India:... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Many bags don’t arrive, and Biju hears that the airline is only giving compensation to nonresident Indians and foreigners, not to... (full context)
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Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Biju’s luggage finally arrives, and it arrives intact. He steps out of the airport in Calcutta.... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...Gyan. The cook, likewise, is calling not for Mutt, but really out of worry for Biju. (full context)
Chapter 50
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Biju is told that there are no buses to Kalimpong, as the political situation has worsened.... (full context)
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Biju gets a seat and straps his luggage to the top of the car. They twist... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Biju sees the mountainside approach and grows more and more excited to see his father. As... (full context)
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Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
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Biju asks how long they are staying, and the men reply that he will have to... (full context)
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Biju runs into the forest, without his luggage, savings, and without his pride. He has returned... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Sai thinks of her father, the National Geographics, the judge’s journey, the cook’s journey, and Biju’s. She resolves to leave. Sai turns to go inside, but as she does, someone catches... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...get it. Morning begins to break over Kanchenjunga, and the cook goes outside. He sees Biju standing at the gate, and, swinging it open, the two men leap toward each other. (full context)