Heat and Dust (Characters and Summary) Heat and Dust Characters: 1923Olivia, Douglas, The Nawab, Mr. /Mrs. Crawford, Mr. /Mrs. Minnies, Harry, The Begum, Dr. SaundersPresent timeThe Narrator, Inder Lal, Chid, Maji, Dr. Gopal, Karim and Kitty, Ritu, Inder Lal’s mother Summary The narrator of the present went to India in order to find out her grandfather’s first wife– Olivia’s story.
She gets to know the Indian officer Inder Lal, who sublets her a small room in Satipur and becomes a friend of his.While being more and more accepted in the Indian society and knowing more about the Indian culture, the narrator herself has been changed by India as well. The change of her is not only obvious by her outward appearance, some of her attitudes has been changed as well.
She thinks the old sick beggar woman is dispensable and has hesitated to help her. On the other hand, she has helped Chid without hanging back, although he was also infected. The relationship between the narrator and Inder Lal has developed as well. They became intimate and have a love affair, while Inder Lal’s wife, Ritu, was on the pilgrimage with his mother.They like to talk to each other in order to find out as much as possible about the Indian/western world, which is foreign to them. During the conversations, the narrator finds out that Inder Lal is not happy in his marriage with Ritu. She is not good educated and can not understand his thoughts.
Inder Lal’s mother has chosen her to be his wife because of the compatibility of their families and her fair komplex. Olivia’s story is plotted in 1923. The narrator discovers her story by reading her letters to Marcia, her sister.
Olivia could not speak Hindu nor Urdu, what made it difficult for her to find any Indian friends.Anyhow she never had the intention to be under Indians. She does not like the Crawfords and the Minnies. They are the contrast of her: They speak Hindu, know exactly which behaviour is expected and get along with all sorts of situations. Her only friends in India were Harry and the Nawab. After meeting each other the first time while the dinner party in the palace, the Nawab and Olivia kept meeting each other either in her home, or in his palace. The picnic at the Baba Firdau’s Shrine ended up with a love affair between the Nawab and Olivia.
Olivia got pregnant and told both the Nawab and her husband Douglas about the pregnancy. Douglas had no idea that the child might be not his. Nevertheless the Begum, the mother of the Nawab, soon arranged an abortion for her, but the scandal was not to be hidden anymore. After the abortion, Olivia made her way to X, a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas. She maintained a house there and died in the 1950s. In the end the narrator, who is pregnant from Inder Lal, but has decided to keep the baby, also comes to X and rents a room in Olivia’s house.