Narrator and point of view


The events described in the memoir excerpt “By Any Other Name” by Santha Rama Rau are told by a first-person narrator, who is also one of the main characters. The adult narrator presents events that took place when she was only five and a half when she attended an Anglo-Indian school.

The events are described from little Santha’s perspective, which helps readers look at what is happening through the lens of her naivety and child-like attitude. For example, when the headmistress changes her name to Cynthia, Santha does not question it and even says “Thank you”. Little Santha’s perspective also highlights her inability to understand why other children do not let her win in games: 

At home, whenever we played tag or guessing games, I was always allowed to ‘win’—‘because,’ Mother used to tell Premila, ‘she is the youngest, and we have to allow for that.’ (…) When we played twos-and-threes that afternoon at school, in accordance with my training, I let one of the small English boys catch me, but was naturally rather puzzled when the other children did not return the courtesy. 

The narrator then completes this scene by adding some of her adult perspective on why she was acting like this. She readily explains that she “had no clear idea of ...

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