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Sold, by Patricia McCormick
Transcript of Sold, by Patricia McCormick
We later learn that Monica is there by choice- not because she likes it there, but because she, although already having paid her debt, has a family at home who needs the money, including the nameless daughter that thinks her dead. At one point in the story, Monica goes home believing that she would be welcomed back as a hero, perhaps, and that her village would not shun her for her deeds, and instead thank her...much to her dismay, the villagers beg her to leave them and never return, and the brokenhearted Monica obliges.
She returns to the only other place she has ever really known, the brothel,; and even there, she is not welcome once she gets "the virus"...and that is the last we hear of Monica, a good friend of Lakshmi's- who could bring any man to her bed, who underwent these horrible things for her little girl who lived far away, who once had a temper that terrorized everyone at the brothel- Monica, who gave Lakshmi her rag-doll rabbit toy when Harish left; only Monica. Pushpa was one of Lakshmi's roommates when she was moved out of the separate room. She is a woman who lived at the brothel for a very long time. She is a grown woman who lives there with her young son of eight years named Harish, and a baby girl called **le insert child's name hither**. She, like Monica, is also there, of her own free will, for her children. She came to Happiness House when her husband died, and had been working there for an unknown amount of time.
Before too long, the reader learns about Pushpa's failing health. She was once referred to as "the coughing woman" because she was constantly sick enough to cough, yet not ill enough to throw out onto the street. Yet that changes when her illness becomes so grave that she stays in bed for days and occasionally coughed up blood. When Mumtaz could no longer see a reason to keep her- as she became so ill that no man would wish to lay with her, Pushpa and Harish were thrown out on the street. Yet Mumtaz offered to take in the girl- saying that she would be taken care of until she could start earning for Mumtaz just as her mother before her had done. Pushpa sat on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands for the entire day until Harish came home. And without even speaking a single word, they packed their small tin trunk that they had kept under the bed, and left Happiness House forever. Character Descriptions Pushpa Character Description Harish Character Description Mumtaz Character Description Street Boy Character Description Stepfather Harish is Pushpa's eight year old son. He wears a David Beckham jersey and has hair that sticks up in the back of his head, and knees as knobby as those of a “baby goat”, according to Lakshmi. He lives in the brothel with his sister and his mother; going to school by day, and coming home at night, back to Happiness House to fly kites or run errands for the girls, such as getting them certain things, sometimes earning a rupee or two!
Despite his surroundings, and the burdens that he carries- like how he has to care for his mother, who’s health is constantly questioned and severely delicate, and how he has to withstand the taunting of the cruel boys who mock him because his mother is forced to be a prostitute so that he may go to like they do; Harish is, or at least appears to be, a very happy boy. He plays soccer and worships David Beckham; he goes to school and learns English- it's a semi- normal life that he is grateful for. This is why Lakshmi is so jealous of him; while she suffers day in and day out, he can find happiness in the same place she finds despair.
She tries to find her happiness too by distracting herself with learning- she steals Harish's English storybook and drowns in the contents, relishing every moment of freedom as she gets lost in the pages of a place far, far away from Happiness House- all the while being careful that the book's owner doesn't walk in on her. Until one day, she pours too deeply into the book, and Harish finds her sprawled on the floor with his book when he comes back from school; she says nothing and runs.
From there, the relationship between Lakshmi and Harish begins growing from "the jealous thief of knowledge through escape and her unknowing victim," to "teacher and student", when Harish offers to teach Lakshmi both English and Hindi, which she gladly accepts. They become fast friends as Harish teaches her beautiful words like "", "", and ""; and become something like brother and sister during the Festival of Brothers and Sisters, when he gives Lakshmi a brand, new yellow pencil and she is undone by the kindness, she later returns the gesture by taking her old, mountain shawl and skirt and ripping them to shreds to make them a soccer ball for her new friend.Yet her joy is short-lived. And Pushpa becomes ill for too long this time, and when asked “how are you today?” she uses the saddest word that Harish had ever taught her:"sorry." "Sorry" was the word Harish used when he could not give Lakshmi lessons one day, and "sorry" was the last word Lakshmi had ever told the one she once called “the David Beckham boy. Mumtaz is the antagonist of the story. She is a cruel, fat woman with a “mango face” and wears a purple sari. She owns the Happiness House and runs it with an inescapable, iron fist. Throughout the length of the story, Mumtaz is a looming presence of fear and pain for the girls in the brothel. She, and her faithful spy called Shilpa, terrorize the girls day and night-Mumtaz was well known in the story for constantly insulting them and beating any disobeying girls near to the brink of death. Yet the one punishment that strikes fear into the heart of any girl at the brothel and even the reader, was her severe punishment- saved strictly for those girls who disobey on a level that she considers most extreme- such crimes like trying to escape, or accepting gifts from the customers. Even the sound of the mortar and pestle was enough to send Lakshmi into hysteria; it was the sound of Mumtaz grinding hot chili peppers. Those ground, red hot chili peppers- who would eventually be put on a stick and shoved up into the disobedient girl’s private parts- were Mumtaz’ most severe punishment, and would leave the girls whimpering well into the night.
At first, Lakshmi thinks that Mumtaz is her new mistress- that she will be asked to clean this city woman’s house and her earnings would be sent to her family. The poor, ignorant girl could not be farther from the truth. Instead of a fastidious mistress, Mumtaz becomes far worse. She begins by starving and beating Lakshmi for five days, as punishment for when she would not lay with the old man with the yellowing eyes. And when Lakshmi would not yield, and instead continued to refuse to do as she said, Mumtaz drugged her into lying with her first few customers, such as the man known as Habib.
She then strengthens her hold onto Lakshmi by asserting her debt to Mumtaz, saying that she would be free to go once her debt of 20,000 rupees. She tells her heart wrenching truths and soul shattering lies that cause Lakshmi to lose hope for a while, but somehow, by some miracle, Lakshmi finds the strength to fight back and eventually find her stolen freedom in a little white card an American man gave her, and a young street boy who gave her a Coca- Cola.
The last time we ever hear Mumtaz’ name was when Lakshmi ran past her, past the gates of the hell known as “Happiness House”, past all of the nightmares she had to endure for the past year, and most of all, past that she-devil whose face was plastered against a wall by a police officer- that she-devil who had finally been caught and was being placed under arrest, soon to face her own punishment for the horrible crimes she committed. Character Description Stepfather We do not know much about Lakshmi’s stepfather in this story. We know that he is a one armed- man that “Ama”- Lakshmi’s mother- does not love, but instead merely performs the duties of a wife in their culture, saying that “a flawed man is better than no man at all.” We know that she is Ama’s second husband- Lakshmi’s father had died, prior to the story- who has a severe gambling addiction. We know that he does not love Lakshmi or her mother, and in their stead, has a deep passion for the cards he is dealt and the money he might earn at the tea shop, were he not so unlucky. We know that he is a lazy, selfish man, who cares more about his own appearance than any of the family he is supposed to provide for. And, lastly, what we know about this man is that he is the one to blame for everything that happened to Lakshmi at the Happiness House. Yet “what’s done is done”, as they say and Ama made a poor choice when she remarried. Instead of marrying a good, working man who would at least bring them money from a hard day’s work, she made a “bad bet” and took a chance on the guy that saw the world as rupees in a card game- it was a huge mistake that would end with them being broke beyond words and her, unknowingly, selling her one and only daughter to a strange city woman named Bimla, who worked for a brothel, and yet made promises of a job as a household maid. It truly was “too good to be true.” The Street Boy is a nameless character in the story, he's a vendor that comes to the Happiness House everyday and sells tea or Coca- Cola to the girls, or in Shilpa's case, alcohol.
He's described as "lalalalala descriptions", who is very nice to the girls and flirts with all of them, but never goes to their beds.
Lakshmi, in an attempt to pay off her debt faster, does not buy anything from the Street Boy. Eventually, he asks her about this, but Lakshmi does not answer and walks away. He leaves her a cup of tea, anyway, and once again when Lakshmi tries hiding under her bed to keep from seeing him. His last gift to her was a Coca- Cola; it was Lakshmi's first, and it was the grandest gift she had received. He got a beating for that gift, from his boss, and when he came back, with bruises and cuts, Lakshmi tried asking for a loan from Mumtaz...she was laughed out of the room. The next time she saw the street boy, was the last time.
His boss had changed his route, and he was changing immediately.
Lakshmi never gave him his money- instead, she asked of him one last favor. She asked him to take the white card that the American gave her and take it to someone, anyone- just save her.
It's thanks to that little street vendor- that amazing young man- that Lakshmi was ever free from the Happiness House. Rising Action Event Number One The monsoon that lasts 40 days hits Lakshmi's mountain village. It kills every one of their crops- and leaves them poverty- stricken and desperate. They eventually end up selling Ama's earrings. Rising Action Event Number Two Lakshmi is told that she is going to the city to work as a maid for a rich woman who lives there, her family then sends her away from Nepal, into India. She takes a bus, a cart, crosses the borders, and walks her way into the giant hidden house in the city. Rising Action Event Number Three Lakshmi is told what she is really doing at the Happiness House...she finally pieces together that she has been sold into prostitution by her family. When she refuses to lay with men, she is starved and beaten for five days, until Mumtaz begins to drug her with a cup of lassi everyday- into doing the job she was supposed to do. Climax After a few months of working at the brothel, Lakshmi gets a strange customer.
He is a white man with sandy blond hair and wears khaki shorts. And instead of laying with Lakshmi, he instead asks in her language, if she wanted to get out of there and if she was being held against her will. Lakshmi does not answer him. He takes her picture and hands her a small white card with the number of an organization made to help girls like Lakshmi- the victims of child trafficking. The main conflict of this story is that Lakshmi has been damaged both physically and emotionally- and that takes it's toll later when she is offered escape. By the time the American comes along, she no longer trusts anyone but the girls within the brothel- much less the Americans, of whom she has heard many stories about how they are even more evil than Mumtaz.
She wants to be saved, but she doesn't want to take the risks involved with trusting this American man. Main Conflict Exposition Before the story even begins, we know that Lakshmi's father has passed away and that her mother remarried another man who had a gambling addiction. We know that before the story, her family had lived in poverty for years and were accustomed to the harsh life. We can even deduce that Lakshmi had once had many siblings- each one of whom had passed away before they had even turned a year old. Falling Action Event Number One Lakshmi takes a chance, and instead of heading Anita's words, gives the Street Boy the little white card. Falling Action Event Number Two Lakshmi talks about the little white card with Anita; Anita warns her against it- saying that the Americans will trick her and take her away to a place where she will be forced to walk naked down the street, instead of saving her, like they promised. Falling Action Event Number Three The police finally come to save Lakshmi, and place Mumtaz under arrest.
After a whole year of unwilling servitude in the Happiness House, Lakshmi is finally free. One of the new girls gets the hot chili pepper punishment, and Lakshmi gets scared that the punishment is for her. Mumtaz gets suspicious, but it only reminds Lakshmi of the dangers of what she's doing, and how much she wants to get out of there. Resolution