This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at language in Meera Syal's Anita and Me. Language is one of the most important themes in Anita and Me. The young Meena navigates between her household and family, where she is expected to speak correctly and yet is excluded from the intimacy of the private conversations her parents conduct in Punjabi, and the public world, where she marks herself as a Tollington resident by speaking in a strong Black Country dialect. Sometimes these worlds intrude on one another, for example when Mr Turvey speaks Punjabi to her Nanima in public and when she brings half-understood phrases learnt from Anita into the home, shocking her parents.
Texts are primarily understood through their language. Authors therefore use individual words, phrases and imagery with precision.
As a reader, you can better understand the symbolic meanings and associations in the text by paying especially close attention to its language. Authors deploy language with such skill that they are able to create entire worlds out of words. It is important to recognise that prose texts, such as novels, also use language you might be more likely to associate with poetry, including metaphor, simile and personification, and other literary effects. Setting, characterisation and dialogue rely upon the author’s ability in using language.
Paying close attention to language will enable you to increase your understanding of a text. Pause to consider how specific words and imagery have been used, analysing the multiple meanings possible beyond the literal, surface meaning. Consider the suggestions expressed implicitly by each individual choice of words, or combinations of words. It can be worth noting particularly interesting uses of language or imagery while you are reading or re-reading a text. By devoting some time and care to language, you will increase your ability to analyse literature.
Answer the questions below to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect the reader’s interpretation of Anita and Me.