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How does Sumitra grow over the course of the novel?

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How does Sumitra grow over the course of the novel? Sumitra's story (by Rukshana Smith) is set in Uganda at first and then it gradually moves onto England. The story starts of with a family of five; Sumitra Patel (the main character in this novel), Bap (Sumitra's father), Mai (Sumitra's mother) and Sumitra's three younger sisters Sandya, Bimla and Ela. In this novel we follow Sumitra's life from 11 years old to 18 years old and how she changes the way she thinks about things. At the beginning of the novel Sumitra's family are quite rich as they had a houseboy and a cook in the family. Also they have quite a lot of food and able to buy a lot of things. This may be because her father (Bap) owns a shop; he is a shopkeeper or a business man. Furthermore he is an expert on firework display, he knew a lot about fireworks and which firework should go before another one to make more dramatic effects. They lived in a place where there were a lot of different cultures. "They passed through villages where Indian women crouched outside houses...they went by African townships where naked children shouted...Occasionally, high on hills, they caught a glimpse of the white homes of the British." This shows how the English is sort of separated with the African and Indian as they live high up and the other cultures live on the bottom of the mountain. Also it shows how the English 'live high in the hills' which meant they looked down on the other cultures and tried to be more separate from the other cultures. However this leads to Sumitra thinking of some question such as 'why are the different cultures separated.' This is just one of Sumitra's questions as she is often seen having some question. She thought of things like: 'why Indians spoke Gujarati and Hindu and why blacks spoke another language.' ...read more.


Sumitra was now confused because "first they were told to hate black people in Uganda, now they had to hate the white people in England" This shows that her family are giving propagandas to their daughters. Sumitra is enjoying and getting into the English culture but at the same time she is receiving propaganda from Bap. Sumitra is becomes integrated but Bap doesn't know. Apart from Sumitra who is being drawn into the English culture, the rest of the family are drawn into the Indian culture and become part of the community, as they can go to the temple and go to the cinema which shows Indian films. The Indian culture was disrupting her homework, "she felt as if she were a bridge between two countries..." as she has to do her homework as well as clean the house etc... it was a hard life for Sumitra. Two years went by and Leela became pregnant. The Patel family have to move into a council house, which there they meet more new people and racism. First they meet Jean who lives at the council house the longest. Jean had let prejudice rule her life and made horrible remarks just as the Patels entered the building. "Blimey we are being invaded." Jean makes it clear that the Patels are unwanted as she used derogatory language. The Patels also meet Martin and Maria who are the complete opposite to Jean. Maria helped Sumitra a lot. Sumitra thinks she had a lot of problems such as being in two different cultures but she realises that other peoples' problems are worse. Maria made Sumitra feel positive and made her feel as if she had a friend who she could trust. This shows that Maria influences Sumitra quite a lot and makes Sumitra thinks more maturely. However even though Sumitra does not have many problems anymore but back in the room Mai and Bap have a problem. "Never had life seemed so bleak, so bare to Bap and Mai before..." ...read more.


"Families are like chains that tie you down" this is one of the problems which are stopping her to grow. Soon after, Sumitra started working at a detective agency and met an Indian girl called Vasha Nahri who was in the same situation as Sumitra. Vasha Nahri was 21 years old and had left home because Varsha's parents wanted her to marry but she didn't and also her parents threatened to send her back to India. Varsha changes Sumitra's perspective and they both start getting really close (good friends). Sumitra also meets another person called Kirit, who she falls for and he had the same feelings for her as well. Shortly, Sumitra works at a travel agency where she meets another friend called Gwynneth. He talks to her about a flat which his old roommate had moved out and asked if Sumitra wanted to move in. Sumitra was worried that her moving out would get Sandya into trouble, but in the end Sumitra plans to move out as she realises and has found the answer. Sumitra's story tells us that people can grow in various different ways. At the beginning of the novel Sumitra was a shy little girl who kept her problems to herself and not telling anyone, who then turns into an elegant woman who can tell her problems to her friends and change her perspective at the end of the novel. As Sumitra was maturing throughout the novel it seemed like she had her life planned. Also Sumitra grows independent and more intellectual as she is able to develop individuality such as buying new cloths but developing individuality has conflicted with her culture and her parents. Plus Sumitra growing up has been influenced by other people as she had learnt not to take insults personally and learning to adapt to a different culture. I think as she grows she understands more which then she has emotional talks with other people but all this has been prevented by Bap as he thinks she belongs to the Indian culture. ...read more.

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