Anita and Me

by

Meera Syal

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Anita and Me: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Meena leaves Nanima alone with mama, who is also on holiday. She goes to Anita’s house, where Tracey answers the door, saying that Anita is at Sherrie’s farm. Noticing how much Tracey has grown, and that her facial features express both gentleness and sorrow, Meena convinces Tracey to go with her. Tracey takes her dog along. When Tracey suddenly calls the dog by its name, “Nigger,” Meena, angry, explains to her that this is insulting, and Tracey, who did not know that, apologizes, adding that she personally wanted to call it something else.
Meena expresses compassion for Tracey by including her. Although Meena does not mention this directly, Tracey’s sorrowful face can be traced back to the fact that she is probably suffering from physical and sexual abuse. Tracey’s surprise at learning that her dog’s name is insulting reveals that she does not understand her mother’s racism and that she does not actually want to harm anyone, unlike her older sister.
Themes
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
When the two girls reach Sherrie’s farm, Meena chats with Sherrie’s father for a few moments. He tells her that he will be paid for the fact that the motorway is passing through his farm and that his family will move out soon afterwards. After hearing this, Meena feels that everyone is moving away except her.
Although Meena has only mentioned leaving Tollington as part of her fantasies about her future as a famous actress, she now expresses a more urgent desire to leave, perhaps fueled by the racist attitudes she has discovered in her own community.
Themes
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Although Meena expects Anita to get angry at her, Anita merely complains about Tracey being there. When Fat Sally challenges Meena, Anita defends her, saying that she is her “mate” and can therefore be here. Meena wonders for a moment if she will finally be Anita’s equal.
Anita’s annoyance at seeing her sister reveals the lack of trust and companionship that exists between the two girls. It also highlights Anita’s capacity to treat her relationships with frivolity, forgetting her anger at Meena as easily as it emerged.
Themes
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Sherrie tells the girls to tie the dog up so that it doesn’t scare the horses, and Anita insists on using Fat Sally’s belt to tie him up. The girls then discover that it is not a belt, but an expensive scarf that belongs to Sally’s mother. Anita, however, says that Sally’s mother is rich enough to buy herself another one. The two girls get into an argument, and Sally tries to argue that her family is not rich.
Anita’s lack of concern for Sally’s feelings is obvious here, as Anita considers Sally’s belongings available for her personal use. Anita also uses the class difference between the two girls to her advantage, highlighting this inequality to make Sally feel ashamed and coerce her into giving up her scarf.
Themes
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The discussion turns violent when Anita mentions Sally’s fancy school, arguing that the nuns at her school are too ugly to have sex. Sally throws herself on Anita, ripping hair out of hear head, while Anita digs her nails underneath Sally’s cheeks. Sally screams that everyone in the village says that Anita and her mother Deirdre are “slags,” and Meena is shocked to notice Anita’s acceptance of this violence, as though Anita had made Sally turn violent.
Anita’s apparent enjoyment of this conflict is confusing, since she not only enjoys attacking someone else but also does not seem to mind being attacked. This perhaps suggests that Anita, like her sister Tracey, is used to suffering from violence and abuse. It also highlights that Anita can be cruel to the point of irrationality, putting her own well-being at risk only to make fun of someone else.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
In the meantime, Tracey’s poodle has gone wild because of the fight and succeeds in breaking free of his leash. He runs out as quickly as he can, while Sally stops fighting to retrieve her scarf and leaves, soon followed by Tracey, who wants to find her dog. After the fight, with bald patches on her head, Anita calmly stands up to ride Sherrie’s horse Trixie. When she does so, Meena is awed by Anita’s horseback riding talent. She has a natural, completely fearless attitude on the horse, full of joy, which makes Meena feel better about everything that happened.
In the same way that Meena had sought to distract herself after seeing Anita humiliate Tracey by making her urinate in front of everyone, Meena now seeks solace from the violent fight she has just witnessed. Anita’s elegance on the horse contrasts with her usual attitude, suggesting that she might be able to use her talents to better purposes than acting cruel and domineering.
Themes
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After Sherrie comments that it will be wonderful for Anita to have a horse so that they can ride together, Meena realizes that neither girl knows that Anita will never have a pony, and that Sherrie is unaware of the fact that her family will soon move. Meena suddenly feels pity for Anita, realizing that Anita perhaps needs her more than Meena needs Anita.
Meena suddenly realizes that, as children, Sherrie and Anita remain unaware of certain facets of adult life around them, such as the fact that their parents might be hiding information from them. Meena then feels a superiority that has nothing to do with Anita’s efforts at domination, since Meena tries to use it to protect Anita instead of humiliating her.
Themes
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As Meena prepares herself to ride Trixie, they hear the sound of a car accident and run outside to see Tracey crying near the dog’s body on the road, explaining that the car hit it and drove away. Hairy Neddy steps out of his car to help. He concludes that the dog is going to die soon but that he could never kill it. Anita then appears, with a mocking look on her face, and prepares to throw a rock at her dog’s head. However, both Hairy Neddy and Sherrie prevent her from doing so. After releasing the rock, Anita goes limp.
For once, Anita’s attempt to cause harm is not ill-intentioned, since she wants to kill her dog to put it out of its misery. She aims to present herself as someone without feelings, capable of committing violent acts without thinking, but she ultimately proves that she is not as callous as she tries to appear, since her body reveals her strain.
Themes
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Friendship Theme Icon
When Meena returns home, she realizes that she does not even know how she walked home. Her mother tells her that she is early and asks her if she had a good ride, to which Meena replies automatically. She is overwhelmed by the image of the dead dog, which she realizes she has hated for his name instead of his personality. She concludes that this illogical hatred makes her similar to Sam Lowbridge, with whom she senses she will soon have another confrontation.
Meena is shocked by the innocent dog’s sudden, unfair death, which causes her to reflect on her attitude toward the dog. Her realization that she has proven as obstinate and intolerant as Sam underlines her moral honesty. Although Meena might sometimes be inclined to lie, she is also capable of examining her conscience and drawing difficult conclusions about her own behavior.
Themes
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon