A House for Mr Biswas - Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

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When Mr. Biswas starts going to school, it is discovered that there is no official record of his birth, and he has to get an affidavit for a birth certificate based on Bipti’s approximation of his date of birth. In school, he becomes friends with a boy named Alec, who helps him discover that he has a gift for lettering. At home, his mother remains remote, and is subject to moodiness. Mr. Biswas feels helpless to help her and spends time with Alec to avoid the uselessness he feels around his mother. After six years, Tara decides that he should be trained as a pundit, and he goes to live with Pundit Jairam. Under Jairam’s supervision, he is introduced to important Hindu scripture, learns Hindi, and is trained in the duties of the ritual of puja. After eight months, Mr. Biswas insults Jairam by eating some bananas that has been a gift, and then outrages him by desecrating a tree. He is sent back to Pagotes in disgrace.

Upon his return, Bipti is not particularly welcoming; she is distracted by her anger at Dehuti for running away with Tara’s yard boy. Tara and Ajodha are more sympathetic, finding Mr. Biswas’s embarrassment to be amusing, and comforting him as his mother should have.

Ajodha puts Mr. Biswas to work in a rum shop where he is under the supervision of Ajodha’s brother Bhandat, and also where he shares a room with Bhandat’s sons. Bhandat is inhospitable and suspicious, accusing Mr. Biswas of being a spy for Tara. He has a good reason to be worried, as he is actually stealing from the shop.

Bhandat has an explosive temper, fights with his wife and frightens his sons and Mr. Biswas. On one occasion when he is drunk, he accuses Mr. Biswas of stealing a dollar from him, beats him with a belt and cuts his eye. He goes back to Bipti, and they quarrel, Mr. Biswas bemoaning the fact that people can treat him badly because he has no father to look after him, and Bipti saying that she has no luck with her children, and with Mr. Biswas, she has the least. In anger, Mr. Biswas declares that he can get a job for himself and eventually have his own house, but he is not able to find any work that appeals to him. Defeated, he goes back and tells his mother he will kill himself; her response is that it would be the best thing for both of them.

Mr. Biswas goes to visit Dehuti and Ramchaud, the yard boy she has married, but their simple, tidy house and the change in Dehuti only depresses him. He realizes that he has also become separate from his sister. He finds Alec again, who has taken up sign painting. Mr. Biswas takes it up, and discovers it is something he enjoys, but the work is irregular.

Bhandat’s wife has died in childbirth and Bhandat has abandoned his sons, Jagdat and Rabidat, to live with his mistress; Tara and Ajodha have taken in their nephews, and Mr. Biswas’s reading duties have been taken over by Bhandat’s sons. Now, Mr. Biswas, unneeded, does not hold the same status in the household. He is tired of the living conditions at the back trace and wants to move, but Bipti does not want to move. He starts to notice women, but there is always some feature that prevents him from being completely attracted to any particular woman. He secretly believes in love, but it embarrasses him, and he only speaks of it mockingly around his peers. He postpones any pleasure in life until he finds the romance and sweetness that he feels life will eventually bring to him.


In obtaining a birth certificate, Mr. Biswas effectively is born again into a new life as he enters a new world of education and new friendships. His unsuccessful experience with Pundit Jairam reveals his tendency to thoughtlessly follow his instincts and get himself into trouble, which becomes a recurring problem. The punishment for eating the bananas involves being forced to eat too many bananas, resulting in the stomach trouble that will plague Mr. Biswas for the rest of his life.

Returning in disgrace to his mother, he is disappointed that Bipti does not provide the reassurance that he so desperately needs, and instead finds comfort with his aunt and uncle. The relationship between Mr. Biswas and Bipti is strained, both of them wallowing in self-pity and blaming each other for their miserable lives. His depressing visit to his sister’s house, along with his apparent replacement in Tara’s house by Bhandat’s sons makes him feel even more alienated from his family.

When his mother does not share his desire to move away from the back trace, his frustration with his status and his desire to have his own house lead him to get out and find a vocation for himself on his own. When he discovers he enjoys painting signs, he has taken another new path; this one will start him on fulfilling his destiny. Knowing that happiness awaits him someday, he lives with a sense of expectation. His romantic nature compels him to wait for the sweetness and romance that he is sure that life will ultimately supply, but he obstructs potential opportunities for romantic encounters with women by having impossibly high standards.


prolix, copious, depredations, deferentially, benignity, contentious, consecrated, pillaged, glutinous, intemperate, repartee, subsidiary, perfunctorily, allegory, abstraction , debauch, corrugated, querulous, ancillary, perversely, conciliated, rebuff, decorously, avuncular, deferred

This section contains 938 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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