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Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss: The Influence of Western Culture on Indians

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Firstly, appreciation of western culture and lifestyle is one of the main themes of the book. As we know, this book represents the post-colonialism; it shows the effects of colonialism throughout this book. After the colonialism, many Indians immigrate to western countries simply because they were fascinated by other countries.

The majority of Indian people are attracted by a desire of wealth which, according to them western countries could bring. For example Biju, who illegally lives in the USA to make a better life for himself. Living in a Western country is a huge success for them. Biju’s father who’s a drunken cook is very proud of his son for living in the USA. After his son got a job in New York, the cook brags to everyone about it My son works in New York […] New York. Very big city, the cars and buildings are nothing like here. In that country, there is enough food for everybody. And every one of them reacts positively to Biju’s success and starts cherishing the USA. People like Jemubhai who studied in a western country and who is wealthy, unconsciously leads other people to go to western countries to become rich. And this vision of wealth slowly rubs off on children. They grow up having the same values and thoughts as their parents.

In addition to that, there are family expectations that cause each individual to leave their own country. In Biju’s case, he’s the only child of his father. His mother had died when he was little. His father who’s a cook -only have enough money to feed himself and who has a liquor business to earn extra money – has a desire for modernity. The modernity which only the rich people could afford. He on the other hand, is so poor that he can’t afford to keep his money at home for the fear of rats. The poverty of the cook makes him dream of wealth even more. The colonization has divided India into two different classes: the poverty and the privilege. The cook’s poverty only brings humiliation for him as he’s treated with no respect by the privileged people. For example Lola who represents the privilege in this novel, thinks poor people can’t be trusted, they’re always into crimes, which leads her to disrespect them.

As a result of these behaviors, people like the cook believes they can feel pride only if they are wealthy. For example the cook lies to Sai about her grandfather. They sent him to England and ten thousand people saw him off at the station. He went on top of an elephant! He had won, you see, a scholarship from the maharaja.

The cook’s lies demonstrate how he imagines a wealthy person to be treated.

Like most individuals in India, father’s expectations led Biju to move to U.S. although Biju also desired to be rich.

In the chapter four, Desai shows us how the western countries are superior than India according to the Indians. For example the author mentions the belief of characters in India and was sure that since his son was cooking English food, he had a higher position than if he were cooking Indian. Which means everything that is Western is better than anything that is Indian. The cook, who represents Indians, also thinks that serving a white man is better than serving an Indian man. This is why he’s disappointed to work for Jemubhai.

The author also shows how Indians are obsessed by the desire to leave. However, there’s always this conflict between the poverty and the privilege as well. People who are already rich enough to travel are only able to get a visa. To its consequences, wealthy people continue to be wealthy and poor people continue to be unfortunate. As a result, the more desperate people are the ones, who get rejected by the embassy.

Desai explained the scenery outside the U.S embassy Crowd of shabby people had been camping, it appeared, for days on end. There’s an unending queue waiting to get the visa, although it is risky and they have to lie, they do not stop trying to. Once they fail to get a visa, they try again; according to them it’s never too late to make their life a better life. This situation presented by Desai, demonstrates Indians’ recklessness to go abroad.

Once they manage to get a visa, they think they have conquered the world. You’re the luckiest boy in the whole world as mentioned by a man after Biju got his visa.

Similar to that Jemubhai was also treated with respect in India, just because he studied in England.

Through this behavior Desai shows us the admiration of western lifestyle in India as well the desire of wealth. And how they are willing to leave their own country for a westernized lifestyle.

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Kiran Desai’s the Inheritance of Loss: the Influence of Western Culture on Indians. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
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