A powder puff is a kind of pad used for applying powder to one’s skin. The judge’s powder puff, which he uses for his job, takes on a much larger significance when he returns from Cambridge as a part of the Indian Civil Service. It represents the judge’s adoption of British culture and his rejection of Indian culture, not only in a metaphorical sense but also in a literal one, as he whitens his skin with the powder puff during his trials. When he returns home and Nimi steals the powder puff, the judge’s discovery of her deception initiates his attempts to “Anglicise” her as well, as following this episode he gets a British companion for her, throws away her hair oils and bangles, and demands that she learn English. Additionally, the powder puff serves as a way of further culturally separating the judge from his own family. When he is looking for the powder puff, he tries to explain what it is and what purpose it serves, but they don’t understand why he needs it and laugh at him for using it. This foreshadows the later feelings that the judge’s father expresses, when he tells the judge that he has become a stranger to the family.
The Powder Puff Quotes in The Inheritance of Loss
The man with the white curly wig and a dark face covered in powder, bringing down his hammer, always against the native, in a world that was still colonial.