This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on character. Meera Syal’s semi-autobiographical novel, Anita and Me, is narrated by its central character, Meena Kumar. Meena’s family includes her mother, father, brother Sunil, and grandmother. Anita is the older girl whom she idolises and Sherrie and Sally are the two friends who accompany Anita almost everywhere. Other characters who live in the village include neighbours such as Mr and Mrs Worrall, Mr and Mrs Christmas, the Mitchells, and Hairy Neddy, as well as authority figures such as Uncle Alan and Reverend Ince. The shopkeeper, Mr Ormerod, friends of Meena’s family, the Aunties and Uncles, and Meena’s own friends, including Sam and Robert, also play important roles in the novel.
Meena is much younger than the other key characters, with the exception of Tracey. The reader is therefore presented with a child’s limited understanding and sometimes can perceive the gap between Meena’s observations and her understanding of other people.
This works well both to show the distance which the narrator, who is narrating from an adult perspective, looking back on her childhood, has travelled, as well as being a source of humour, too, as the reader understands so much more than the young Meena is able to comprehend.
In order to better understand the role of each character in a work of fiction, pay close attention to the way in which they interact with one another. Where there is a first-person narrator, you should also analyse how each character is represented by the narrative voice. The first person narration of Anita and Me limits the reader’s view of other characters and their motivations to whatever Meena herself knows or comes to understand as she grows older. Thus, we come to know Meena best as we perceive all events in the novel, and all other characters, through her eyes.
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Anita and Me.