The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

Gyan Character Analysis

Sai’s twenty-year-old Nepali math tutor, though their relationship blooms into a romance. Gyan begins the novel as naïve as Sai, but eventually he matures due to the GNLF movement that arises in Kalimpong. He recognizes that he shares many of their complaints and concerns, and marches in protest with them. After this political awakening, Gyan becomes frustrated at Sai’s innocence and cultural elitism. He betrays her for the movement by telling his friends that the judge has guns at his house and no telephone, leading to the robbery of Cho Oyu. Eventually Gyan becomes wracked with guilt and tries to reconcile with Sai, though their relationship remains unresolved at the end of the novel. Gyan, like Sai, holds some hypocritical views, because he enjoys tea parties and cheese toast with her, but he also recognizes that these British imports are byproducts of a system that has led to his own subjugation. Ultimately, Gyan is a character reckoning with generations worth of systematic oppression, which becomes personal when it leads to his own coming-of-age process.

Gyan Quotes in The Inheritance of Loss

The The Inheritance of Loss quotes below are all either spoken by Gyan or refer to Gyan. 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 26 Quotes

It was a masculine atmosphere and Gyan felt a moment of shame remembering his tea parties with Sai on the veranda, the cheese toast, queen cakes from the baker, and even worse, the small warm space they inhabited together, the nursery talk—

It suddenly seemed against the requirements of his adulthood.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 27 Quotes

“You are like slaves, that’s what you are, running after the West, embarrassing yourself. It’s because of people like you we never get anywhere.”

Related Characters: Gyan (speaker), Sai
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 29 Quotes

Don't you have any pride? Trying to be so Westernized. They don't want you!!!! Go there and see if they will welcome you with open arms. You will be trying to clean their toilets and even then they won't want you.

Related Characters: Gyan (speaker), Sai
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 40 Quotes

There were houses like this everywhere, of course, common to those who had struggled to the far edge of the middle class—just to the edge, only just, holding on desperately—but were at every moment being undone, the house slipping back, not into the picturesque poverty that tourists liked to photograph but into something truly dismal—modernity proffered in its meanest form, brand-new one day, in ruin the next.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
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The chink she had provided into another world gave him just enough room to kick; he could work against her, define the conflict in his life that he felt all along, but in a cotton-woolly way.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 285
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gyan Character Timeline in The Inheritance of Loss

The timeline below shows where the character Gyan appears in The Inheritance of Loss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai looks out into the mist and notices that her algebra tutor, Gyan, is more than an hour late. She excuses his absence because of the thickening mist.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The principal of the local school recommends a student named Gyan—who has finished his bachelor’s degree but hasn’t yet been able to find a job—to be... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The cook sets out study tools in a semicircle for Sai and Gyan, and this reminds him of the clinical atmosphere at the doctor’s. He would emerge happily... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
During Sai and Gyan’s first lesson, the cook brings in tea and fried cheese toast. He then sits just... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Later, the cook remarks to Sai that it is strange that Gyan is Nepali—he would have thought Gyan would be Bengali. The cook explains that Bengalis are... (full context)
Chapter 16
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...judge looks up from his chess and sees Sai climbing a tree, waiting to see Gyan approach. Each succeeding week of tutoring, their anticipation for each other grows. The judge tells... (full context)
Chapter 18
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Two months after Gyan arrives to tutor Sai, a monsoon starts to build. In a flash, it arrives. The... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...growing political discontent, but a three-day strike is postponed because of the weather. Between storms, Gyan walks to Cho Oyu. He worries that he might not be paid, because Sai has... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Gyan finds Sai reading the newspaper (ironed dry by the cook) and wearing her kimono. She... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
At dinner, the judge is irritated by Gyan’s presence (he calls Gyan “Charlie”). The judge realizes that Gyan is unused to eating with... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...at his past self, and leaves the dinner table. Sai apologizes for his behavior, but Gyan is too preoccupied staring at her. The cook clears the dirty dishes and makes up... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Left alone, Sai and Gyan read for a bit longer in an overly focused fashion, until Gyan is unable to... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...she did and did not wash: her feet, her face, her teeth? She thinks about Gyan and how gentle he had been. (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
In the spare room, Gyan wonders at his bravery in going beyond the bounds of propriety and whether it was... (full context)
Chapter 20
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Whenever the storms pause, Gyan returns to Cho Oyu. He and Sai measure their collar bones, eyelashes, and veins. They... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Sai and Gyan do not pay attention to the political rumblings that are mounting daily. Posters are put... (full context)
Chapter 21
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...is sitting beside the sisters, but she is not really listening; instead, she thinks of Gyan’s touch. (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai continues to think of her afternoons with Gyan, and how they melt into each other like butter. Mrs. Sen begins to complain about... (full context)
Chapter 23
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gyan and Sai’s romance begins to flourish. They call each other a variety of nicknames. They... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Together Sai and Gyan go to cultural institutes, the zoo, and the monastery on Durpin Dara. From that hill,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gyan tells Sai a little of his own family history. They had left their village in... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gyan’s great-grandfather swore allegiance to the Crown, and was killed after he married and had three... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Sai asks about Gyan’s father, but he does not reply. When Sai returns home in the evening, she stops... (full context)
Chapter 25
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...by Sherpas in mountaineering expeditions, and that Tenzing had worn to climb Everest. Sai and Gyan had recently gone to see Tenzing’s possessions at a museum. Gyan said that Tenzing was... (full context)
Chapter 26
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
After the new year, Gyan is buying rice in the market when he hears people shouting. When he exits the... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gyan has a feeling of history being wrought and views the scene as if it were... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gyan watches as a man climbs up on a bench and begins delivering a rousing speech.... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...in schools; if they can compete for jobs. The procession responds to each question: “No.” Gyan himself remembers his last job interview—over a year ago in Calcutta, which had been conducted... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Later, Gyan, his friends, and many others sit drinking and discussing what to do. Gyan feels comfortable... (full context)
Chapter 27
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
The next day, Gyan arrives at Cho Oyu restless and moody. He is angered by the luxury of the... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
They both begin to yawn—Sai yawns playfully; Gyan yawns in spite of himself in response. Sai asks if he is bored by physics.... (full context)
Chapter 29
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan leaves as he hears Sai beginning to sob. He slams the gate behind him. He... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Some time later, Gyan returns to Cho Oyu and apologizes to Sai. After some coaxing, she accepts his apology.... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Sai also finds her anger returning. If Gyan argued against Christmas, he would have to argue against speaking English as well, which would... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gyan tells his college friends about how he is forced to tutor to earn money. He... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan questions why he shouldn’t betray Sai. She only speaks English and pidgin Hindi. She can’t... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan is sure, however, that Sai is proud of her lack of Indian-ness, so he tells... (full context)
Chapter 31
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
On the road, Sai thinks of Gyan and their fight over Christmas, and how ugly it had been in contrast with the... (full context)
Chapter 33
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...the restaurant, the procession is on its reverse trip. Sai is shocked when she spots Gyan in the procession. He sees her, and his expression warns her not to approach him.... (full context)
Chapter 34
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...is undependable and an alcoholic. Sai grows angry at these circumstances, believing that this is Gyan and the GNLF’s doing. Her mind returns to the day of the gun robbery, when... (full context)
Chapter 35
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gyan had been the last one to touch the guns, admiring them. Sai had told Gyan... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...the judge tells the cook that they never find anyone. Sai continues to think of Gyan avoiding her. (full context)
Chapter 39
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Sai remembers how gentle she and Gyan had been with each other, and then how ferocious his look had been warning her... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai continues to hope for Gyan’s return. She reads Wuthering Heights and waits. She visits Uncle Potty, who confesses that he... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
...throat, and dismal mood. When her cold starts to wane, she goes out to find Gyan. (full context)
Chapter 40
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...the music and video shop, and the classrooms in Kalimpong college, but does not find Gyan. She walks two hours downhill to the poor part of Kalimpong where Gyan lived. On... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Sai asks a woman passing by where Gyan lives. She gestures to a house ahead—a “small, slime-slicked cube” with sand coming out of... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai is ashamed for Gyan. The house does not match Gyan’s English, his clothes, or his schooling. She realizes that... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
A ten-year-old girl emerges from the hut. Sai asks if Gyan lives here. The girl is suspicious, and Sai explains that he is her math tutor.... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Gyan asks Sai what she wants, and in that moment Sai remembers that she is angry... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai accuses Gyan of what the Nepalis are doing, saying that it is their fault Father Booty was... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai criticizes Gyan for being a hypocrite, saying that he enjoyed cheese and chocolate at her house, but... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Sai begins to laugh as well, but then Gyan flashes back to anger. He wants to be a man and to be strong, not... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan realizes that he owes a lot to Sai, because she has defined what he was... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan’s little sister reappears, and Gyan turns to take her back inside. Sai yells at her... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...worries about how she will be laughed at and thought of as a lunatic, while Gyan will be cheered on for his conquest. She walks home very slowly, feeling none of... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...through the gate, but they only retreat behind the bushes to wait. Sai cries over Gyan for a while, but the image of the woman returns to her. She goes downstairs,... (full context)
Chapter 42
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Gyan’s sister informs their family of Gyan’s activities, despite the fact that he bribed her. His... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gyan is secretly relieved by this reprieve of responsibility. He had tried to be part of... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Sai lies in her room, and she and Gyan both miss the defining protest of the conflict: the burning of the Indo-Nepal Treaty. Boys... (full context)
Chapter 44
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...bath, the cook is churning butter, and Sai is sitting in her room thinking of Gyan. They do not see or hear a thing. The trespassers bind Mutt with rope and... (full context)
Chapter 49
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...and the cook’s help. Sai is glad to have another disguise for her distress over Gyan. The cook, likewise, is calling not for Mutt, but really out of worry for Biju. (full context)
Chapter 51
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...goes to the canteen, where people laugh at him for being upset over a dog. Gyan is sitting in the corner, and when the cook leaves, Gyan follows. He asks the... (full context)
Chapter 53
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...lives would continue unimpeded, and Lola’s daughter will marry an Englishman. Meanwhile Sai wonders where Gyan is. (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...she does, someone catches her eye in the distance. At first, she thinks it is Gyan; then, someone who has found Mutt. The figure gets closer, until it looks like a... (full context)