52 pages 1 hour read

Supriya Kelkar


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

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Symbols & Motifs

The Charkha

The first major change in Anjali’s life is the transition to wearing khadi, or homespun clothing, which is made on a charkha, or loom. To her, the charkha symbolizes the freedom movement in India and, correspondingly, symbolizes her mother, who drew her into the movement. In fact, learning to use the charkha and seeing her mother spin thread is what begins to warm Anjali to the idea of her mother as a freedom fighter, even though she’s resistant at first. Anjali’s successful use of the charkha foreshadows her interest and full-scale investment in the movement. Her reaction to using the charkha shows her excitement and the spark of interest in being part of the freedom movement: She “looked proudly at the thread. She had actually done it. She had made the beginnings of homespun clothes. Just like Gandhiji” (62).

When Anjali is at her lowest, she spots the charkha in her home, which reminds her of her imprisoned mother, and pushes it away from her, damaging it slightly. This action represents her frustration with the freedom movement, feeling like it has taken too much from her. Additionally, at this point in this novel, with Ma and Keshavji in prison, Anjali alone must lead the efforts to integrate her school.