Rats appear throughout the novel, primarily surrounding Biju in New York City. These and other animals come to represent the abuse of society’s poorest people. There are many instances in which animals are killed simply for entertainment, such as when Saeed Saeed kicks a rat up into the air until it comes down dead, or when another immigrant sets a garbage can with a rat inside it on fire. Some instances involve animals who are killed for food, but are no less gruesome, such as when a goat is butchered and skinned in India. Animals serve as an extension of a dynamic frequently seen between people in The Inheritance of Loss—that the most vulnerable individuals are the ones who are most likely to be preyed on, because they are easy to take advantage of—as when Biju is swindled time and time again in his quest to get to and then remain in America. This also makes the cook’s statement that Biju was always very good with animals more symbolic, as it demonstrates that Biju is unwilling to take advantage of others in order to benefit himself.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Rats and Other Animals appears in The Inheritance of Loss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...stolen. Uncle Potty and the Afghan princesses support this theory, as they have all had animals stolen from them. Lola comments on how Indians have no love for animals—that they find... (full context)