This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at context in Meera Syal's Anita and Me. Context, in literary terms, applies to the environment in which a text was written. Context includes an author’s geographical time and location, along with contemporary social and political events. These aspects of a text’s context might sound familiar, because their fictional counterparts form what is known as “setting”. Just as a text’s setting refers to the fictional aspects of the world contained in the text, “context” describes the same aspects of the author’s own world. Where a text is set in the recent past, as in Anita and Me, historical context might seem very close indeed to the novel’s fictional setting, especially when the author explicitly addresses social and political issues. The consequences of Britain’s colonial past are very much evident in the novel, as they were at the time the novel was written (and still are now).
It is always a good idea to make the effort to learn about the context of a work of fiction. Your understanding of the environment in which the text was produced will enhance your analysis of its other aspects. Consider how the text has been shaped by its context. Where do you see evidence that the author has responded to contemporary events or issues? Be aware context never dictates the meaning of a text, however. The influence exerted by the context of a novel can be subtle and always interacts with the author’s own intentions in writing the work. Historical events, or issues, are not represented in a clear and unbiased manner in the pages of a fictional text.
Research the context of Meera Syal’s Anita and Me, remembering everything you have learned in your English lessons, and try these questions to see how much you know about the context of the novel.