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Chapter 1: Annawadi
Summary (1-5 sentences) Chapter one begins with a quote that goes from the idea that many poor people have dreams of their children becoming rich one day. The quote is said by Karam, who is Abdul’s father. Abdul is introduced in this chapter as well. He is a teenage boy who works as a recycling and trash trader within the Mumbai Slum. Annawadi is where this portion of the story is taking place. Annawadi was built in 1991 by migrants from Southern India that had the intention of working at an airport, and never left.
The slum is home to many of the people who have been let out of poverty by the economic liberalization in India.
OMG moment I found it very interesting how much education was valued in this chapter. Despite the conditions in the slum, Zehrunisa still continued to force it upon the boys. Additionally, the jealousy factor that goes into how smart you are surprised me as well.
Abdul tries not to be jealous of his brother, who is very good at school. To these people, education is one of the few ways the poor can expect to get out the slums and improve their lives. It almost seems like a competition.
Real-world connection. Include source. In the story, Husains are worried about being able to afford Mirchi’s education/schooling. Yet, Mirchi is very smart, but, lives in the slums. In today’s world, sometimes we see this situation. There are people out in our world who are smart, but living in poverty, and do not necessarily have the same opportunity to use their intelligence to their advantage.
Even in today’s world, paying for education is something many struggle with doing.
Chapter 2: Asha
Summary (1-5 sentences) In this chapter, we are behind the narrative of Asha, who is Manju and Rahul’s mother. Asha is viewed as a very ambitious woman in the Annawadi slum. She is very happy in this chapter because the slumlord turned away from corruption now that he has found religion. The slumlord, Robert, incorporating religion more and more into his life. As Robert’s power slowly goes away, Asha, being the ambitious woman she is, believes that she can fill the shoes of Robert. However, Asha has to remember the gender inequality in India during this time. Despite that, she still believes in herself. Asha is also a kindergarten teacher when she is not working towards being the new slumlord.
OMG moment I found it very amazing that Asha is a kindergarten teacher, yet is still a mother with hopes of changing the slum for the better. Her ambitious personality is what gets her through the hardest of times. I was just very surprised, because I know mothers and teachers that are not living in poverty who are barely surviving because they are busy. Imagining what it is like being an inspiration to your community when living in such a poor place is challenging. I give Asha much credit.
Real-world connection. Include source. While gender inequality is very problematic in India and in Behind the Beautiful Forevers, especially in the occupation desired by Asha, she is able to use a corrupt system of government to her advantage. Trying to control the slums as a woman in India during that time, is not much different than say trying to run for president as a woman. Women, potentially the best for the nation, will always not be respected as much as men. This gender inequality issue is still in effect in 2019 United States.
Chapter 3: Sunil
Summary (1-5 sentence s) In chapter three, we get an insight into the life of Sunil. Sunil is another garbage collector in Annawadi. Sunil is 12 years old, and learned to read many different people while he was living in an orphanage. Sunil also has a younger sister, Sunita. They live in a dirty, cramped hut with their alcoholic father. When Sunil was a young boy, he used to beg for food, but now that he is older, this method does not work as well. Despite the fact that Sunil is older than Sunita, she is much taller than him, which bothers him a little. One day, Sunil walks down the Airport Lane as he passes a large concrete wall that had ads for floor tiles that promise that they will be “beautiful forever.” This wall shows a lot of significance in this story as it hides the Annawadi slum from the airport. Throughout the chapter, Sunil continues to work and with his first income, he goes to a see a movie.
OMG moment The idea from chapter 3 that fascinated me the most had to be how Sunil handled his circumstances. I couldn't help but to think of how modern American kids would have acted in a similar circumstance. He made the best out of the life he was given, he did not let his circumstances determine who he would be. I know that if I were thrown on the streets at 11, I probably wouldn't strive for more because I wouldn't think it was worth it. It is phenomenal how much drive he had at such a young age. He taught himself so much, and believed in making more of himself. I was overall fascinated by this and just wondered what it would be like if young people today here in America operated the same way. It's funny because we are given all of these resources and take it for granted, yet here is Sunil that has to work hard for it and appreciates.
Real-world connection. Include source. Throughout chapter three, Sunil exposes his perception of the other garbage collectors in his area. He values them. Sees how much they are needed. Appreciates them. Now, when I really thought about it. Do I do the same? No, not really. In our world, I know for a fact that we lack appreciation for all that garbage collectors do. Yes, it is a job. A dirty one, in fact. But, more citizens need to act like Sunil and appreciate all that they do. There are people like Sunil in our world today and that is what made me make this connection. We need more people like Sunil.
Chapter 4: Manju
Summary (1-5 sentences) In Chapter four, the author writes a lot about Manju and we as readers learn so much about her. Manju is the daughter of Asha and sister to Rahul. Manju is very smart, however, in this chapter, she struggles to understand one of her novels for her college English course. She uses many excuses like the weather for her lack of understanding. These days, Asha appears to be very tense and stresses with her business. Manju is also running a day school outside her hut. She teaches English to many of the students. Sunil considers her lessons to be meaningless while he could be working and earning money. Lastly, Manju is viewed as the perfect girl in Annawadi. She is beautiful, and has the perfect skin tone.
OMG moment Asha seems to be a little selfish and just looking out for her family. Manju seems to have compassion and is caring. Manju puts everyone above herself by only getting 4 hours of sleep a day due to teaching in the slums, cooking, and laundry services for her household of 5. Asha is working for a corrupt corporator and took advantage of it. She took out a loan to open a failing business but wouldn't get a loan to help with heart valve surgery for Mr. Kamable. Manju also wanted to be married and become a teacher while her mother stated drama and money is more important than love. I just found it very surprising to see and how to compare how two characters from the same family can be so different.
Real-world connection. Include source. Because Asha and Manju are very different when it comes to their personalities and what they believe in despite them being in the same family, it made me think about how politics can divide our families in almost the same way. My brother and I may have different political beliefs than say, my mother. It is the same idea as Asha and Manju. It does not mean I do not love someone as much, it just what we believe in. I feel that this is a common thing in the United States today. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/.../what-do-when-politics-and-family-collide)
Chapter 5: Ghost House
Summary (1-5 sentences) This chapter began with another quote from one of the mother’s in the Annawadi slums, which is asking why poor people can not make stupid mistakes the same way that rich people. This quote sets the stage for someone living in Annawadi to make a mistake that could potentially ruin their entire life. Then, the chapter quickly changes focus and looks more into Fatima. Fatima was born with a birth defect that left her leg twisted and unusable. It causes her to feel down on herself and struggles to find self-worth. At the end of the chapter, Zehrunisa convines Karam to buy an actual shelf for their wall to separate the cooking and the rats.
OMG moment I feel, as a reader, I was interested in Fatima in this chapter. thought it was interesting how she coped with her challenges. I thought it was sad the way she was treated by her family. I could not imagine being told by my parents that “I had been born wrong”. I empathize for Fatima because she has been through a lot. Her self esteem is low which is why she chooses to be promiscuous. I admire Fatima and I could not imagine growing up with one leg and dealing with all the insults and degrading comments from the people in my community. Fatima was the most interesting to me of all the women.
Real-world connection. Include source. Sometimes the strongest people are the ones that are the weakest. In this chapter, Fatima reveals her struggles with her leg. Yet, she is so inspiring. In today’s world, I feel that there are many people that are just like Fatima, For example, those who compete in the Paralympics. It takes a lot of strength to do something like that, and I feel Fatima connects with many strong human beings in 2019 United States.
Chapter 6: The Hole She Called a Window
Summary (1-5 sentences) In this chapter, renovations at the Husain household begin. All of the children have to stay home from school in order to help out. In order to do the renovation, they have to move all of their stuff to the street where Karam and Zehrunisa guard them so nothing is stolen. When they do this, the other neighbors in the slum realize how much richer they are than all the rest. Their belongings reveal more about their wealth than expected. Also, Fatima catches on fire. She set herself on fire and then doused the flames. Fatima blames this on the Husain family.
OMG moment The part I found most fascinating in chapter 6 would be when Fatima burns herself. 'She wants to burn herself a little, create a drama, and instead she burned herself a lot.' (175) It is mind-boggling that someone could be so mad or have so much hate for another that they would harm themselves. I understand how it feels to not like your neighbors but the extreme measures she took were too much in my opinion.
Real-world connection. Include source. Fatima burning herself is similar to suicide in the United States. Often, people who feel, like Fatima does with her leg, they want to hurt themselves because of it. Even though this is a story, these issues are common amongst humans. , instances like these do happen a lot.
Chapter 7: The Come-Apart
Summary (1-5 sentences) The main part of this chapter is about Fatima in the hospital. In the hospital, Fatima feels like she is worth something, as she lies in her first ever bed, surrounded by medical equipment, and many visitors from Annawadi. Her entire life, she has worked to make herself important to all of the other slum residents, which required so much from herself, including her heath. Asha shares a powerful moment with Fatima. Asha reminds Fatima that she has more to gain in this life by giving in to what really happened in her narrative and letting the Husain family to pay her to forget everything. Fatima dies from her burns.
OMG moment It caught my attention about what the Husain family will do without Fatima. I think that without her The Husain family will be persecuted by both the police and their fellow Annawasians. Because Fatima died, it doesn't matter if she burned herself or not; people will be trying to save face. The police will want to look like they have the strength and will charge them. The Annawasians will not want to look bad by supporting a family that would attack a disabled woman. One this is certain: the Husain family has hard times ahead.
Real-world connection. Include source. Fatima’s situation is very similar to poor people in hospitals today. I know that there are many studies that being in a hospital where it is very nurturing can almost be addictive to those who don’t experience it as much.
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