The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

Rats and Other Animals Symbol Analysis

Rats and Other Animals Symbol Icon

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.

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Rats and Other Animals Symbol Timeline in The Inheritance of Loss

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.
Chapter 2
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...hidden in his hut before moving it to the garage of the house, worried that rats might eat it. (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...a good nature. He had beamed with pride when recounting how good Biju was with animals, and how unafraid he was. In the present, the police pick up the letters that... (full context)
Chapter 10
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...cannot, he is fired. He returns to the building exhausted, and hears the sound of rats around him. (full context)
Chapter 17
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Saeed catches a mouse at the Queen of Tarts, kicking it with his shoe and dribbling up and down... (full context)
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
In the bakery, a customer finds an entire mouse baked inside a sunflower loaf. A team of health inspectors arrive. The Queen of Tarts... (full context)
Chapter 24
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...up a new life at the Café—but he is still not able to escape the rats. Biju also quickly comes to realize the rift that exists within Harish-Harry himself, who tries... (full context)
Chapter 30
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...out that he had been cheated. A local butcher, in the process of wrestling a goat to be slaughtered, noticed him and told him that many others had come in search... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...a cement mixer grinding his teeth. His friend then sets a garbage can with a rat inside it on fire. (full context)
Chapter 46
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
...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)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...taken her for a vaccine two years ago that most people could not afford. Stray dogs had been slaughtered by the truckful and whole families had died, but the judge spent... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
The judge almost weeps, thinking of how men are unequal to animals. Humans are corrupt, while animals live with delicacy on earth and don’t do anyone harm.... (full context)