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By Any Other Name

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Alexa Jaffe

on 14 December 2014

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Transcript of By Any Other Name

Two girls, named Premila and Santha attended the Anglo-Indian day school in Zorinabad, a village in northern India. At this time, Premila was eight years old and Santha was only five and a half. When the girls showed up to school on their first day, the headmistress asked for their names, declared that their names were too difficult to pronounce, and suggested they choose new names, English ones. So, Premila became to be known as “Pamela” and Santha’s name was called “Cynthia.” Premila and Santha primarily attended the English school because of their father’s job situation. Their father (unnamed) was a civil service officer who had to perform a tour of duty in the surrounding villages. Until their father left, Premila and Santha’s mother had refused to send them to a school run by British authorities. Also, their mother’s health was deteriorating, which led to her being unable to teach the Hindi lessons to her daughters. On the first day of school, Santha attended a class with almost forty children in all; nearly twelve of them were Indian. Santha decided to sit next to a petite Indian girl. Shortly after, the teacher asked Santha to stand up and tell the class her name, but she didn’t know what to say or how to say the name she was given. The English children laughed at Santha’s inability to say her name, and looked at her. Santha was clearly embarrassed and upset as she sat down in her seat quickly. The Indian girl she sat next to gently touched her arm as a gesture to comfort her. Santha noticed that they mainly learned lessons about reading, writing, and some numbers. She understood all the words written on the board except for “apple.” At lunch time, Santha followed the girl she sat next to, out to the veranda. She observed that the others were eating sandwiches; meanwhile she and Premila were the only ones who brought Indian food. Besides that, Santha realized that she was expected to play games with her classmates. So, she participated, even though she didn’t understand the concept of competitive games. Santha didn’t know other Indian children sit
The author of “By Any Other Name” is Santha Rama Rau. Besides her short story “By Any Other Name,” Santha Rama Rau has written several other stories, including “East of Home,” “View to the Southeast.” Also, she wrote an autobiography, titled “Gifts of Passage.”
Santha was born on January 24th of 1923 in Madras India. She’s an Indian author and journalist who was best known for her travel books. Rama Rau’s father was an English-educated civil servant and diplomat, and her mother was a cofounder of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Their family lived abroad for much of her early childhood and when she was six, they moved to England, in England she was educated at St. Paul’s School.
After studying English literature at Wellesley College, she returned to India to work on her first novel, Home to India in 1945.In 1947 she joined her father who was stationed in Japan, there she became a teacher and met her first husband, American Faubion Bowers, together they traveled Asia and the experience formed the basis for her second book, East of Home which was published in 1950.

Summary Cont.
Author: Santha Rama Rau
that there was a real “winner” in those types of games since she was used winning just because she was the youngest. During one of the games, Santha let one of the boys catch her, not realizing that she was not supposed to do that. This led to much confusion when she chased the other for a long time, without them allowing her to tag them. Once Santha saw her family’s car pull up to the school she ran away from her classmates, yelling loudly. She was then lectured by Ayah and Premila that she shouldn’t act like that in front of her classmates at school. Santha was so happy to be home and leave behind her “Cynthia” identity. While Santha was asking her mother what “apple” meant, Premila interjected that her class had weekly tests. Santha asked what a test was, since she had never had one, nor heard of them. That evening, Santha played with the cook’s son, until the ayah found her and made her come inside. One week later, while the two girls were in school, Premila burst into Santha’s classroom. Santha had just started being friends with the Indian girl, Nalini (she was called Nancy at school). By that point, Santha realized that being friends with any of the Anglo-Indian children was not a possibility. Since Nalini was her only friend in class, they would sometimes draw pictures and share them with each other. Once Premila entered Santha’s classroom, she ignored the teacher’s question, and firmly announced that they were going home. On their way home, Premila added that they were “going home for good” when Santha asked what was going on. When the girls arrived home, they were immediately questioned by their mother, as to why they were home so early. Premila replied that the teacher made her and the
Summary pt.3
other Indian children sit in the back of the room during the test because “Indians cheat.” Premila also added that she didn’t think her and Santha should go back to that school. Their mother agreed. While Santha took a nap, Premila and Mother questioned whether or not Santha understood what was happening. Premila assured her mother that Santha was merely a child, however she was wrong. Santha knew exactly was going on, but chose to push it in the back of her mind because it happened with her school identity, Cynthia, not herself (Santha).
Alexa Jaffe & Faith Seamon
By Any Other Name
Premila/Pamela- 8 Years old, sister of santha, when they arrived at the English school the headmistress changed her name to Pamela claiming that it was “much to difficult to pronounce”. She was forced to sit apart from her classmates because her teacher claimed that “Indians cheat”.

Santha/Cynthia- Was 5½ at the time she was sent to the Anglo-Indian School, sister of Premila. Her mother and Premila believe that she is too young to understand anything that was going on.

Unnamed Father-Father of Santha and Premila, was the reason that they were sent to the Anglo-Indian school, he was a civil service officer who had to perform a tour of duty in the area.

Mother- Mother of Santha and Premila, enrolled her daughters into the new Anglo-Indian school, because she could no longer educate them due to her illness.

Headmistress- Gave Premila and Santha their english names, was the first character who ostracized the girls apart from everyone else because of their ethnicity.

Nalini/Nancy- Another Indian child that attended the school, became good friends with Santha, she was one of the only 4 Indian children in her class. Often referred to as “the girl with the braids”.

English/Anglo Indian children- These children made up the majority of the school, often these children ostracized the Indian children, and it became apparent that a friendship would not form between the two cultures.
Character List:
The theme of “By Any Other Name” is multiculturalism. The story opens with the two sisters arriving at the new Anglo-Indian school and immediately they are told that their original Indian names are not “pretty” enough and that they needed new ones. It was said that out of the 40 children that attended the school only 12 were Indian, and there was a clear boundary shown that the British children were not going to befriend them. When Santha first entered her new class she noticed that all the other Indian children were sitting towards the far back of the classroom. This shows the segregation in the atmosphere of the school, also that Santha was fascinated by the interactions of other cultures. On the other hand Premila was trying to accept the cultural differences into her life. She even went home after the first day of school and suggested that her mother packed them sandwiches for lunch like the other children had instead of the Indian food they normally ate. This story shows us examples of the struggles of multiculturalism and how Premila and Santha struggled to co- exist with the British children of the Anglo-Indian school.
Literary Terms and Examples:
Imagery- “She had long, glossy black braids and wore a cotton dress, but she still kept on her Indian jewelry- a gold chain around her neck, thin gold bracelets, and tiny ruby studs in her ears. Like most Indian children, she had a rim of black kohl around her eyes.”

Metaphor- “You can bury a dog’s tail for seven years and it still comes out curly, and you can take a Britisher away from his home for a lifetime and he still remains insular.”

Metonymy- “I am Premila, and she”- nodding in my direction-” is Santha.” “Oh my dears, those are much too hard for me. Suppose we give you pretty English names. Wouldn’t that be more jolly? Let’s see, now- Pamela for you, I think.” “...And for you,” she said to me, “how about Cynthia?” “Isn't that nice?”

Tone- “The headmistress had been in India, I suppose, fifteen years or so, but she still smiled her helpless inability to cope with Indian names.”

Metaphor- “You won’t have them in your class for donkey’s years.”
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