An analysis of the memoir excerpt “By Any Other Name” by Santha Rama Rau shows that the text has a chronological structure. The narrative focuses on an important event in the main characters’ lives, their first days at an Anglo-Indian school.
The main characters are Santha and her older sister, Premila. The sisters attend an Anglo-Indian school, where they are given English names. The two have different ways of dealing with the experience.
The setting is an Indian provincial town, where Santha and Premila’s father works. The focus of the story is the Anglo-Indian school that the two sisters attend. The school teaches lessons in English and does not celebrate the girls’ Indian culture.
The events are told by a first-person narrator who is also one of the main characters. The adult narrator offers more insight into the Anglo-Indian school system, while young Santha’s perspective highlights her child-like innocence.
The language highlights the condescending attitude of the school’s British staff towards Indian children like Santha and Premila. In Premila’s case, her style of speaking hints at her attempt to fit in at the new school, an effort she dismisses as soon as she is confronted with her teacher’s prejudiced attitude against Indians.
A full analysis of the short story can be found on the following pages.
Excerpt from the study guide: