Anita and Me


Meera Syal

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Themes and Colors
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Anita and Me, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Family Discipline and Guidance

Set in the fictional English village of Tollington in the 1970s, Anita and Me explores the relationship between Meena Kumar, a nine-year-old girl whose parents are recent Indian immigrants, and Anita Rutter, a twelve-year-old white girl, born and bred in Tollington. Meena grows up in a tight-knit family composed of Mama, Papa, and her young brother Sunil, as well as an extended “family” of Aunts and Uncles—fellow Indian immigrants who…

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Nine-year-old Meena’s life changes radically when she develops a friendship with Anita Rutter, a local girl who is three years older than her. Although Meena initially benefits from spending time with Anita, she soon discovers that this older girl is more interested in dominating others than in establishing sincere, reciprocal relationships. It is only once Meena meets Robert, a young boy she falls in love with, that she realizes that genuinely meaningful…

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Culture and Belonging

Growing up as a second-generation Indian immigrant in England causes Meena to reflect on her cultural roots. Although she enjoys the atmosphere of Tollington, she realizes that she will never feel fully English because her family background makes her feel connected to India, and she is not accepted as fully English by many of the white people she lives among. At the same time, Meena has never been to India, and it is only once…

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Racism and Violence

Nine-year-old Meena grows up in the small English village of Tollington, which she initially finds to be warm and welcoming. However, when economic changes rock the region and Tollington’s peace is threatened by the construction of a motorway, Meena realizes that some villagers harbor resentment for their working-class lives. Frustrated by a system that keeps them from thriving economically, these people seek scapegoats—which they find in non-white people, including recent immigrants like Meena’s family. When…

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Truth vs. Lies

Meena tells many lies throughout Anita and Me. Some of these lies are selfishly meant to conceal misdeeds and avoid punishment. Other lies, however, are intended to protect Meena’s family and keep her loved ones from harm, and as such can be seen as a useful tool to achieve a greater good. Meena thus struggles with the morality of lying throughout the novel, unsure of when it is acceptable to bend the truth. Meena’s…

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