Anita and Me


Meera Syal

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The Eleven-Plus Exam Symbol Analysis

The Eleven-Plus Exam Symbol Icon

At the end of primary school, Meena must take an exam to determine which school she will go to next: the reputable grammar school, far from Tollington, or the less esteemed comprehensive school, which Anita attends. For Meena, the eleven-plus exam represents more than a simple test. It is her opportunity to make her parents’ sacrifices worthwhile and prove to them that she is capable of succeeding in the English educational system. This exam also represents an opportunity for Meena to prove to herself that she is capable of following her own, unique path toward success, far from the asphyxiating environment of Tollington. Meena’s anticipated success on the eleven-plus thus becomes the product of the young girl’s determination and intelligence, as well as her parents’ love and faith in her. Meena’s success on the exam marks a radical shift in her life, revealing that she is capable of succeeding if she works hard and trusts in her own capacities. This exam thus represents both a challenge and a celebration of courage and resilience.

The Eleven-Plus Exam Quotes in Anita and Me

The Anita and Me quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Eleven-Plus Exam. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oberon Books edition of Anita and Me published in 1996.
Chapter 12 Quotes

I decided there and then to heal myself, both in body and mind. It was time. I asked mama to bring in all my school books to prepare for the eleven-plus, I would grow my hair long and vaguely feminine, I would be nice to Pinky and Baby and seek out their company willingly, I would write letters to India and

introduce myself properly to that anonymous army of blood relatives, I would learn to knit, probably, and I would always always tell the truth.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”), Pinky, Baby
Related Symbols: The Eleven-Plus Exam
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Eleven-Plus Exam Symbol Timeline in Anita and Me

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Eleven-Plus Exam appears in Anita and Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...cry, as she realizes that she will miss Sunil’s birthday, have trouble studying for the eleven-plus, and, worst of all, that they will not be able to go to India. Her... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon wants to be a better person. She resolves to focus on preparing for the eleven-plus. (full context)