Key events in ‘Anita and Me’


One of the pieces of advice we give to students taking Literature exams on novels is to learn a selection of significant or pivotal events / extracts which will likely prove useful in a number of contexts – i.e. useful when answering a number of potential questions.

For example, I reckon the events at the spring fete in chapter 7 are significant / pivotal for the following reasons:

  • latent racism becomes manifest;
  • Anita does not understand Meena (shows limits of their ‘bond’ / friendship);
  • Sam’s ignorance – and his ignorance of Meena’s feelings – is made clear
  • Tollington is not seen as united, where Mr Pembridge had, earlier in the chapter, called for the community to pull together to resist the motorway construction etc.
  • Meena is unable to see Tollington in the same light
  • Meena understands she will always need her papa.

Explain here WHY one event / extract of your choice is significant / pivotal; if it’s that significant, there should, like my example above, be a variety of reasons to explain.

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32 Responses to “Key events in ‘Anita and Me’”

  1. Scott Radcliffe Says:

    I think a significant part of the novel was when Meena meets Robert in the hospital. I believe this is a significant part because,unlike with Anita, Meena didn’t have to work to gain Robert’s friendship. Whilst with Robert Meena starts to mature and to prove this, when her family tell her that Nanima is going back to India she performs a nod understandingly. In addition to this, when she describes Tollington taken away from her she shows the same level of maturity as when Robert died.Overall she sums it up as ‘I had absorbed Nanima’s absence and Robert’s departure like as rain on parched earth, drew it in deep and drank from it’. As a result of this Meena starts to realise that Anita has been ruining her life and starts doing things she wants to do such as revising for the eleven plus. In conclusion I think that Meena meeting Robert is a significant part of the novel as she finally comes to her senses.

  2. Joseph Edwards Says:

    I think a significant event in Anita and Me was the arrival of Nanima to the Kumar household, mainly because of how she effects people, specifically Meena. After she arrives Meena feels compelled to reconnect with her Indian background- such as wanting to learn punjabi-and the atmosphere lightens significantly in the house. When the Kumars have a house party Meena comments on how the house “vibrate[s] with goodwill and hope”. Nanima also seems to help Mamas mood (previous to her arrival Mama had been stressed over taking care of Sunil), ” I had never seen Mama so fresh and girlish,” which is a strong contrast to the moodier Mama in the previous chapters. Overall I think that Nanima’s arrival is significant as she symbolises the change happening in the household by acting as a positive influence on Meena and her parents.

  3. Jess white Says:

    I think a significant part is on pages 277 and 278, it is when Meena over hears Anita saying that she went to watch Sam ‘paki bashing’, it is important because Meena sees that Anita finds this funny and doesn’t really care about her, she also sees Sam differently because he is the one who did it, I think it also shows things about what Meena thinks and feels too because she starts to notice she might not be as safe as she always thought and about how she reacts when she gets on the horse which goes into another significant point.

  4. Tallulah jenkins Says:

    Maybe one of the most pivotal events is at the spring fete, when meena sees peoples racist sides coming out, pretty much for the first time. It is after Sams speech about ‘wogs’ She realises that no matter how much she tries to blend herself in by stealing, lying or changing her accent to that of the ‘comp wenches’, she will always be Indian and different to those in Tollington. she recognises this when she talks about how Anita (her so called best friend) doesnt understand what Pinky and baby (her indian rivals) would.

  5. Maria Kästner Says:

    I think a significant/pivotal point within the novel is in chapter eleven when Meena falls off the horse and brakes her leg. One reason as to why i think she does this is because Meena finally realises, after wanting excitement for so long, that she needs to create it herself. Perhaps Meena feels that because other people do not take much notice of her it is up to her to create her own excitement, and this way people may care/worry over her which is what she wants. However i think a more important reason as to why Meena does this is because her physical pain after the incident is symbolic for her emotions and falling off the horse ballences both kinds of pain that she feels. Another reason is possible because she heard what happened to the Indian man who she sees at the Spring Fete. Here she sees that they are similar people and watches him carefully, this is where the reader may feel Meena has a connection with this man because of their culture. After this man is beaten by Sam, i think that Meena feels she has also been hurt in a similar way however not physically, and falling off the horse may be a way to explain how Sam has injured her as i think he is one cause for her action on the horse, and perhaps Meena feels she should also be beaten because of her religion, because this other man was. This scene is also important because it lets Meena see Anita’s reactions and says she simply looked bored, this allows her to realise how unimportant she is to Anita and lets Meena move on and forget Anita.

    • Mr Chadwick Says:

      I very much like the analogy you draw between the physical and emotional pain. Are you, in a sense, saying that Meena willed the injury she sustained as an act of compassion or empathy towards a fellow Indian?

      • Maria Kästner Says:

        I think its not a certain reason for why she caused her injury but i think that perhaps she feels she deserves to be punished because of her culture because the other indian man was, maybe she feels that because they are so similar it is unfair that only one of them gets hurt. another possible reason for Meenas actions is because in the past her family experienced the pain from the partition and Meena has always been curious about this time in the past, and although it is not hinted at in the slightest in the book, it could be a reason for why Meena fell off the horse: to also experience the pain of the culture she belongs to, or to fit in a little more.

  6. sam casey Says:

    I think one of the most signifigant parts of the novel is right at the end when Meena is given the chance to say what happened the night Tracey fell into the lake. Despite Meena’s urge to lie and get both sam and Anita in serious trouble she chooses to tell the truth. This shows how meena has changed through the novel because the very first thing we know her to have done in the book is steal and lie. It shows that throughout the events of the book Meena has developed more understanding of the world around her and the way her actions affect other people.

  7. Sarah King Says:

    I think a significant part of the story is when Meena meets Robert in hospital. Their friendship teaches Meena allot. Robert played a big part in Meena changing and maturing into a better person towards the end. Meena had always waited for something big and exciting to happen in her life and in a way she got it with Robert dieing however i dont think it cracked up to be what Meena had always wanted. She grieved for Robert and decided she wouldnt lie again. I think him dieing really taught her not to be so self centred.

  8. Jimmy Hyde Says:

    I think that one of the most pivotal moments in the book, is when Meena desires to have fish fingers and chips for dinner. I think the reason as to its significance is because it shows that she wants a release from the indian culture, to escape her daily routine and her parents influences. Another reason is it so important is that it shows she wants to fit into to the Tollington way of life, to feel like less of an outcast. She see’s Anita having fish fingers for dinner, and as she looks up to Anita as a role model, it almost feels compulsary in the novel that Meena should copy her.

  9. Lucy Says:

    Although Meena’s fall from the horse is possibly the most instantly significant moment in the book, i think the build up to it is the most pivital as Meena’s breif reflection on recent events is the build up that creates the drama Meena always craved. The reader sympathises ith Meena when she finds out first about Anita seeing Sam and then that they went out “Paki bashing.” Meena always new Anita was a bit of a bad influence and the reader knows this was what makes her seem so attractive to Meena but this betrayal was unexpected for Meena and to some extent for the reader. Meena suddenly realises Anita wasn’t the friend she thought she was, leaving a gap for a ne, faithfull friend soon to be filled by Robert.

  10. Katie Says:

    I think one of the significant events is Nanimas arival to Tollington, this is because Nanima has such a big impact on Meena and her family. When Sunil was born Meena felt like she was being ignored by her own family, but with Nanimas support she feels like part of her family again. Before Nanimas arrival Meena would do anything to get away from the Indian culture but when Nanima arrives she attempts to learn punjabi so she can communicate with her grandmother. Meena took Nanima shopping to Mr Ormerod’s shop because Mrs Worrral suggested that the Kumars should take Nanima out more, and on their way they got stopped by many people. Nanima saw this as very friendly but Meena finds it very patronising. On the way there, they meet Mr Topsy and to Meenas amazement he can speak Punnjabi. Nanima and him get on very well whilst Meena shows a little bit of jealousy that Mr Topsy can speak Punjabi and she cant.

  11. Oliver brown Says:

    I think a pivotal point in the story is Meena’s kiss with Sam Lowbridge, this shows a great connection between them and puts Meena into the place of superior ‘wench’ which Anita had previously taken. I believe that Meena knows more than the others could imagine and she almost bribes Sam into thinking about his actions with a kiss; a feeling of accomplishment spreads through Meena as she thinks, ‘every time he saw another Meena on a street corner he would remember this and feel totally powerless.’ This proves that Meena is confident in Sam’s good character that lies beneath and is sure he will do this. This event shows Meena that she has more control over other people’s actions than she first thought and she realises that Sam does have a more sensitive side.

  12. Josie Says:

    I think one of the most key pivotal points in the story of Anita and Me is Meena’s friendship with Robert, it changes Meena’s opinions and puts a different spin on the story. Meena realises who she is and finally feels like she belongs with someone, Robert, this is also possibly shown with Tollington and how Meena finally felt at home where she belongs. Then Tollington was taken away from her as it slowly fell apart and Robert was also taken away from her. A lot of things changed after this point in the story, Meena matured and as she did she was able to erase Anita from her mind whereas she could never erase or replace Robert because he loyal to her. It also puts perspective on Meena’s life as she seeked the drama and attention and her reaction to Robert’s death was almost understated yet thoughtful. Syal puts this in the story as it signifies Meena growing up from a child and leaving the past behind her. Everything about Meena changes after this point as she appreciates the simple things in her life more.

  13. Hannah Cocks Says:

    I think one of the most pivotal points in the story is when Robert dies, as he changed her perceptions to life and showed her the true meaning of friendship and that what she has with Anita is more like a pet and owner. He also gives her the drama she has been yearning for in her life and when it comes she deals with it maturely and adult which shows Robert has also made her a better person. After their brief time together and his death, I think, is when Meena truly gives up on Anita and ‘rubs her out’ of her life.

  14. Emily Champion Says:

    I think the most key pivotal piont in the novel is when Robert meets Meena. Robert demonstrates to Meena what friendship really is ( very different to hers and Anita’s).
    When robert was introduced to us, is seemed like a shock, because not many accounted good things have happened to Meena throughout the novel, and Robert made a good impression on her, bringing out her adult, mature side, which Meena clearly wants to show to others, and makes her feel as though she does belong in Tollington after all.
    When he dies Meena feels useless and cant really understand who she is, which i think is linked to the point at which she breaks her leg when falling off the horse.

  15. Matthew Chamulewicz Says:

    I think that a pivotal point in Anita and me is when Sunil is born. I think that Meena craves attention and when Sunil is born, she is no longer the centre of attention in the Kumar household. I think that Meena feels as if she has been pushed away from her Mum and Dad, therefore she is drawn even more to Anita. I think that after this event, Meena and Anita have even more in common as Anita’s Mum and Dad also dont pay much attention to her. It makes Meena more independent. If Sunil was not born, I dont think that Meena would have gotten so close to Anita and her mischievous and ‘dark’ side would not have been brought out as much. Also, she wouldn’t have got into as much trouble throughout the book.

  16. KateHooper Says:

    I think that an important part of the book was Meena and Sam’s kiss. We see a kind side of Sam as he tells her “you’ve always been the best wench in Tollington. Anywhere! Dead funny.” This makes Meena feel happy with herself. She also hopes that in the future, Sam will see people with different races than himself and remember their kiss and think differently as he did with Meena.

  17. Benjamin king Says:

    I think Nanimas arrival is of key importance to Meena and the book as it lifts the spirit of the family and their Indian friends. Straight away when she arrives it brings meena closer to her family after being excluded from then due to the birth of Sunil. As well as this i think Nanima has a big impact on Meenas perspective of Indian culture and life in India, as up till this point Meena wanted to fit in with the everyday tollington lifestyle and in a way reject her Indian side. This is also shown when Meena and Nanima are out walking about the town when they meet Mr Topsy, and finds out he can also speak Punjabi. While Nanima and Mr Topsy are talking Meena feels a bit left out and a hint of jealousy as she cannot communicate with Nanima as well as she would have liked.

  18. Tawmina Ali Says:

    I think the significant event was when Meena became friends with Robert
    and she realised how much she needs to appreciate life like she
    didnt already. Also one of the other significant event was when Nanima’s arrival from india. It showed that She made a big impact towards Meena, Meena’s family and their indian friends.

  19. Harriet Cant Says:

    I also believe the end section of the book is a very pivotal and significant event. When the tables are turned between Anita, Sam and Meena you can really understand the raw extent of how much Anita thrives and lives on other peoples devotion to her and how she controls everyone. Without the control of Meena Anita seems vulnerable and desperate, when she send the letter ordering Meena to ‘keep her mouth shut’ it is almost as if she knows that Meena will not follow her orders any more and that her apparent ‘reign’ over Tollington has come to an abrupt end. Finally, Meena is in control and ultimately, gets the last say in Anita’s future.

  20. Carla Rookley Says:

    i think the most significant is Nanima’s arrival to Tollington as this changes how Meena sees things and starts the beginning of a new and more confident Meena as she now realises what type of person she really is and accepts herself and begins to like who she is, Nanima’s arrival also changes the way Meena’s mother is and makes her feel more at home as even though she is far from India she can still be with her mother.

  21. Charlotte Says:

    I think that when Meena follows Tracy in the woods of the Big House is an important part of the book because we see that Meena,even though she hasn’t seen Anita since she broke her leg,she still cares to the extent that she’d follow Tracey,thinking that Anita’s dad was killing her. But when it’s actually Sam and he’s having sex with Anita,we see Anita as more vunerable than before,even more so than when her mother,Deidre leaves.

  22. Alice Says:

    I think that a significant point in Anita and Me is in chapter 12, when Meena goes into hospital, meets Robert, and Roberts death, i think that Meena ends up going to hospital go get away from Tollington, so that on her return, she see’s the village a lot differently. I also think that Robert changes Meena’s perception of life, so that she see life differently, like the village. And she also realises that her relationship with Anita is like another ‘the end of a chapter in a long epic book’ and is now over ‘a full stop’. She also that she ‘could gradually erase her like a childs pencil drawing’. My thoughts on this are that she does this so she can move on with her life, and concentrate on the things that matter to her.

  23. Lewis Eyers Says:

    Meena had a crush on Sam early in the book but she went off him but at the end he kisses her “I had won”. This quote is significant because we learn that meena has been hoping this happens to her, also she know that it will annoy Anita which she has an advantage. But she doesn’t know how disgusting it really is. But she would care even if she did know because she has got what she has always wanted to have.

  24. Ella Mobbs Says:

    I think a significant point in the novel is when the diamond necklace is returned to Mrs Kumar. This is important, as it relates back to an earlier event where Meena loses the necklace when she sees Ganesh in the grounds of the Big House. This is one of the only things she feels guilty about, so when it is returned to her mother, it implies that Ganesh had been watching over Meena and protecting her, safely sending the necklace back so Meena didn’t get into trouble for losing it.
    The necklace could also signify Meena: when she goes out to the fair and loses it, this loss represents the loss of Meena’s relationship with her family and the complete absence of cultural identity – she has lost part of herself as a result of following Anita. When the necklace is returned, it is when Meena breaks the bond between herself and Anita, has a good relationship with her family and finally gains cultural identity. Also, because the necklace is precious, this implies that the part of Meena that it represents is precious as well – it is the better side of her.
    When the necklace comes back to the Kumars, Meena is forgiven of all her wrongdoings, meaning she can start a new, happier life without guilt or resentment. It also shows how Harinder Singh understands Meena – it links these two characters together, as he shows Meena that Indian and British cultures can be mixed successfully. This contrasts with her previous role models (Anita and Nanima) as they only showed one culture, which could be the reason why Meena felt like she didn’t belong – she had no example to show her how to belong in both Indian and British culture. this portrays that Harinder Singh is a good role model to Meena, giving her hope and showing her that she can make something of her life.

  25. Michael Francis Says:

    I believe that a significant event in the novel is almost at the very end of the book. When the police officers come to ask her for information about how Tracey fell (or was pushed) into the pond.
    In that chapter, the book has been building up about how Sam and Anita had ruined Meena’s life and that they deserve punishment. The book finishes by going full circle – Meena having a choice to either tell the truth or to lie. In a reference to the theme of growing up and maturing, Meena chooses to tell the truth.
    She has the chance to tell a simple lie now and says ‘every little fabrication that went before… had merely been a rehearsal to the show which was about to begin’. The option is so tempting to her; she can pay Sam and Anita back for all that they have done, and the lie is risk free because nobody knows what happened.
    At the start of the book Meena chooses to tell a pointless lie, but at the end of it she tells the truth at the crucial moment.
    This events shows how Meena has grown through the book, and how she finally has a sense of identity and well-being and a body ‘which for the first time ever fitted me to perfection and was all mine’.

  26. Joel Gibson-Gleave Says:

    I think one of the pivotal moments of the book is near the beginning when Anita first starts to show an interest in Meena. They run shouting down the alleyway between the houses and upset Mr Christmas who has a sick wife. Up until this point Meena has been friendly with Mr Christmas and his wife, but Meena now sides with Anita. Mr Christmas says “Nice friends yow’ve got now, eh chick?” with an unforgiving look. This shows the start of Meena separating from her parents and their ideas and values, and aligning herself with Anita and the teenagers of Tollington. Although Meena is sad about falling out with the old people, peer pressure is starting to influence her: it is really the beginning of her independence and adolescence. As in much of the rest of the book, Meena has mixed feelings about which side she should be on.

  27. Carla Rookley Says:

    I think one of the pivotal moments in the novel is when Meena is at the Spring fate and Sam makes his speech and peoples darker sides and true feelings are shown i think this is when Meena first realizes that the relationships she thought she had made and the friendship she valued so much perhaps weren’t real and that maybe she has separated to early from her parents and everyone else in her life and the urge she had for excitement has back-fired on her and left her angry and alone afraid to face anyone, as Anita and Sams comments do affect her.

  28. Charis Nathan Says:

    I think one of the most significant events in Anita and Me is when Anita comes to tea with the Kumars and behaves in a way that they aren’t used to at all. She completely disregards her hosts, and snarls at the food she is given. This shows a side of Anita that is afraid to be adventurous and try new things, and jumps at the chance to eat something more familiar to her. Also, when they are having food, and a member of the family burps loudly, Syal describes Anitas reaction as if she expects an apology. Meena covers it up with a lie, like she has always been told not to. But when she lies in this sense, it saves the family from embarrassment, and this is the only time in the book when Meena’s lies serve a purpose that her family approve of. Later on in the evening, Anita tries to steal from Meena, and the things that she tries to steal are things that Meena doesn’t regard as “typical teenage girl” stuff, which shows a vulnerable side to Anita. Meena still doesn’t see that Anita is a bad influence, and the reader clearly can.

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