Behind the Beautiful Forevers

A young trash picker who often sells garbage to Abdul. Sunil wishes he could earn enough to afford proper food, and is very upset that his growth has been stunted by his hard childhood. Sunil can depend on his alcoholic father for nothing and does not receive the same pity and charity that his younger sister Sunita gets. Though Sunil understands that life is stacked against him, Boo shows that Sunil still has hope that he can improve his life by working hard. Sunil’s optimism showcases the entrepreneurial spirit that has overwhelmed India in recent years as everyone believes they can achieve their dreams in the new capitalist system.

Sunil Quotes in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The Behind the Beautiful Forevers quotes below are all either spoken by Sunil or refer to Sunil. 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:
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Behind the Beautiful Forevers published in 2014.
Chapter 3 Quotes

The airport people had erected tall, gleaming aluminum fences on the side of the slum that most drivers passed before turning into the international terminal. Drivers approaching the terminal from the other direction would see only a concrete wall covered with sunshine-yellow advertisements. The ads were for Italianate floor tiles, and the corporate slogan ran the wall's length: BEAUTIFUL FOREVER BEAUTIFUL FOREVER BEAUTIFUL FOREVER. Sunil regularly walked atop the Beautiful Forever wall, surveying for trash, but Airport Road was unhelpfully clean.

Related Characters: Sunil
Related Symbols: The Beautiful Forever Wall
Page Number: 36-37
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

Now the man's leg was mashed and bloody, and he was calling out to passersby for help. Sunil figured he'd been hit by a car. Some drivers weren't overly concerned about avoiding the trash-pickers who scoured the roadsides.

Sunil was too scared to go to the police station and ask for an ambulance, especially after what was rumored to have happened to Abdul. Instead he ran toward the battleground of the Cargo Road dumpsters, hoping an adult would brave the police station.

Related Characters: Sunil
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 11 Quotes

Trying to make sense of the deaths of Kalu and Sanjay, Sunil and Abdul grew closer. Not quite friends-rather, an unnameable, not-entirely-willing category of relationship in which two boys felt themselves bound to two boys who were dead. Sunil and Abdul sat together more often than before, but when they spoke, it was with the curious formality of people who shared the understanding that much of what was said did not matter, and that much of what mattered could not be said.

Related Characters: Abdul Husain, Sunil, Kalu, Sanjay
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

Once my mother was beating me, and that thought came to me. I said, “lf what is happening now, you beating me, is to keep happening for the rest of my life, it would be a bad life, but it would be a life, too.' And my mother was so shocked when I said that. She said, 'Don't confuse yourself by thinking about such terrible lives.' "
Sunil thought that he, too, had a life. A bad life, certainly—the kind that could be ended as Kalu's had been and then forgotten, because it made no difference to the people who lived in the overcity. But something he'd come to realize on the roof, leaning out, thinking about what would happen if he leaned too far, was that a boy’s life could still matter to himself.

Related Characters: Abdul Husain, Sunil
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sunil Character Timeline in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The timeline below shows where the character Sunil appears in Behind the Beautiful Forevers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Sunil
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
The Local vs. The Global Theme Icon
Sunil, a 12-year-old scavenger, is scared to see Abdul so changed. Sunil learned to read people... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
When Sunil was younger, he could beg for charity meals at dinner time, but he is now... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
The Local vs. The Global Theme Icon
One day in February, Sunil walks down Airport Lane using his signature rich boy walk to avoid inviting contempt from... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Sunil decides that he should explore new territory if he wants to make more than his... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Abdul warns Sunil not to get involved with Eraz-ex, feeling somewhat protective of the younger scavenger, but Sunil... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
One night, Sunil overhears Kalu tell Abdul about a thieving operation that went wrong. Kalu found some iron... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Kalu tells Sunil to bring his bedsheets and the two boys sprint down Airport Lane. Kalu leads Sunil... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
With the first disposable income of his life, Sunil goes to see a movie. It’s an American film about a man who survives a... (full context)
Chapter 4: Manju
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...a round of “Head-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toe” to get out the children’s energy before an English vocabulary lesson. Sunil, the scavenger, no longer comes because he considers Manju’s class meaningless when he could be... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Master
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
The rains come again as July turns into August and sewage floods Annawadi. Sunil once heard that the rains wash the mean out of people, but he only sees... (full context)
Chapter 10: Parrots, Caught and Sold
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
In late July, Sunil finds a scavenger lying in the road with an open wound in his leg. Too... (full context)
The Local vs. The Global Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...on the whole slum. Rumors that Annawadi will soon be destroyed by airport developers grow. Sunil is worried about these rumors, but more concerned with the immediate problem that his sister... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
One afternoon, Sunil sees Sonu Gupta, another scavenger two years older than Sunil, walking down the road with... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Sunil begins to work with Sonu, helping him sweep and then searching the airport grounds for... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Sonu and Sunil may do well outside of Annawadi, but they are still targets for the bigger boys... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...is to move back with his abusive father in a slum two hours from Annawadi. Sunil is incredibly sad that Kalu will be leaving, missing both Kalu’s company and the prestige... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...Kalu will return to his bad ways in the city. For now, Kalu scavenges with Sunil instead of stealing. (full context)
Life and Death Theme Icon
The next evening, Kalu and Sunil are selling airport trash to Abdul when a disabled man suddenly walks up and punches... (full context)
Chapter 11: Proper Sleep
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Some of the slum boys, including Sunil, run to see the body, both out a morbid curiosity and to make sure that... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Sunil and Abdul become closer after Kalu and Sanjay’s deaths. They theorize on who killed Kalu,... (full context)
Chapter 13: Something Shining
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
The Local vs. The Global Theme Icon
...hardship for the Annawadians. By January’s end, most people are eating rats and catching frogs. Sunil has become a thief, desperate to make money. Sonu is disgusted with Sunil’s dishonorable behavior,... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Other thieves want Sunil to help them steal from a construction site at a new catering company, but Sunil... (full context)
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Back in Annawadi, Sunil thinks sadly about all the people who want to die due to the hard economic... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
In February, another thief beats up Sunil and forces him to become part of the operation to rob the new catering building.... (full context)
Chapter 17: A School, a Hospital, a Cricket Field
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
One morning, Abdul runs in to Sunil, who asks for money to get something to eat. Sunil has gone back to scavenging... (full context)