Mrs. Tulsi, from A House for Mr. Biswas
If you’ve read V.S. Naipaul’s classic novel, you know how Mrs. Tulsi can be. She’s the matriarch of the Tulsi clan, overseer of Hanuman House, and architect of marriage in a family with fourteen daughters. Like Dicken’s Madame LaFarge, or Carroll’s the Red Queen, Mrs. Tulsi is ruthless, possessed of a certain authority, and given to a certain crankiness. And like Alphaba, the Witch of the West we got to know in Wicked, Mrs. Tulsi is deserving of her own story. In Naipaul’s novel, she is also the engine that drives much of the conflict—and not without a conflict herself. She’s a widow devoted to her husband’s memory, but ends up abandoning her Hindu faith for Catholicism. And while she’s the cohesive force in her family, she eventually withdraws from them completely—a more than complex character who could easily carry her own story. You can read an excerpt from the novel here.