Anita and Me - Understanding the Text

See if you can get all ten questions correct in this enjoyable GCSE English Literature quiz on Anita and Me by Meera Syal. Understanding a text is necessary before you are able to analyse and write about it. Comprehension seems as if it might be a fairly basic task, but is not as easy as it sounds. If texts could be reduced to a plot structure and a simple message, then authors would not need to expend so much energy and so many words to express their ideas!

Authors use a variety of methods to convey meaning. Sometimes authors state the meaning unambiguously, but it is more typical for an author to communicate indirectly through other aspects of fiction, such as character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue. By analysing each of these elements, you will increase your understanding of the text. It is usually best if you find time to re-read the text.

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By limiting yourself to reading a book only once, it is likely that you will miss important details. Even if you find that you need to read particular sections several times in order to understand them, don’t worry! This is a sign that you have actually been especially attentive to the complex nature of the text.

One very useful method of revising is to make a timeline of events. Make a note of the key events which occur in each chapter. How are these related to the plot?

Analyse the relationship between characters’ actions and motivations. Can you discern the reasons behind a character’s behaviour? Does the text contain clues? Are any characters perfectly reliable so that you may take their words at face value? Are you able to perceive any foreshadowing of later events? As you think about these questions in relation to the text, consider how you might justify your views through evidence.

It can be especially fruitful to pay close attention to the beginnings and ends of the text. Consider potential reasons that the author might have chosen to begin the text in a certain way. What do you learn from the initial setting? How do you first learn about individual characters? Consider these questions in relation to each chapter, too. By devoting some attention to careful and detailed analysis of this sort, you can greatly improve your understanding of the text.

Read the questions below on Anita and Me and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.

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  1. Why is Meena's father angry with her at the beginning of the novel?
    She has stolen money from her mother and used this to buy sweets from Mr Ormerod. She told her parents that the shopkeeper gave her the sweets for free
  2. Meena's mother works...
    Meena's mother, unlike many of the inhabitants of Tollington, is university-educated
  3. Which of the following best describes Meena's attitude towards Anita at the beginning of the novel?
    Meena wishes to become more like Anita and to be accepted by her. Anita's friendship serves in some ways as a seal of approval on the younger girl
  4. What is the primary motivation for Nanima's visit?
    From Meena's perspective, her baby brother Sunil is too clingy. In a moment of despair, her mother expresses her feelings of isolation as she tries to bring up two children so far away from her own family. Nanima's arrival restores domestic order
  5. What does Meena lose the night Sunil is born?
    Mr Harinder Singh finds and returns the diamond necklace, which fell near his statue of Ganesha, later in the novel
  6. Anita's family is troubled. Which of the following is NOT a sign of her difficult home life?
    Anita's stealing from Meena and her lies are taken as evidence that she is a bad influence on the younger girl. She often seems older than her age, but at other times it becomes obvious to Meena that she is a young girl deprived of parental love and care
  7. Who lives in the "Big House" in Tollington?
    The "Big House" is described in the first chapter to be "as gloomy and roomy as a set from a Hammer horror film". At the end of the novel, when Meena knocks on the door for help, she discovers the mysterious inhabitants to be the lovely, reclusive couple, Mireille and Harinder
  8. What provokes Meena's disastrous ride on Sherrie's horse?
    Meena is motivated by jealousy, anger, disgust, shock and grief, as well as her desire for something, anything, to happen in her life
  9. Why is Tollington's village school demolished?
    The new motorway is a sign that the village is going through an irreversible change which is likely to result in a loss of its identity
  10. Why is Meena required to give evidence to the police?
    Anita's evidence clears Sam and Anita from Tracey's accusations. The novel begins with Meena's recollection of being forced to admit to having lied to her father and ends with her giving a completely unembroidered, truthful account of Tracey's accident to the police

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