Eaton attempts to portray the spiritual and political leadership qualities of Gandhi in a personal and positive manner. Eaton wants young readers to understand the many sacrifices and trials that Gandhi and his family endured as they struggled to make people free of their unwarranted fears and prejudices. Frequently separated from his beloved family, he studied or worked hard to prove himself worthy of the task. The spiritual awakening that Gandhi experienced in England became the focus for his life and work. Eaton’s portrayal of Gandhi as a self-sacrificing, spiritual individual is illustrated throughout the text. He served as an example for his fellow Indians and for all the citizens of the world.
The use of dialogue in the text of Gandhi is a fictional device that Eaton uses to make the biography more accessible for a younger reader. The liberties that the author takes with such conversations help the younger reader identify with the character and to understand the situation more clearly. For example, the text includes a conversation between Gandhi and a friend while they were still in school in England. Gandhi reportedly said that “I am living in one room and cooking my own breakfast. Now I shall give everything to study.” The conversation probably did not occur exactly as recorded, but Eaton uses this device to give insight into the self-sacrificing character of the young Gandhi. Early in his life, he sought to give up his accustomed material luxuries in favor of a more austere life-style. The change included more than just cooking his own food; as a model...
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Eaton’s accurate tribute to the humanitarian efforts of Gandhi was a Newbery Medal Honor Book in 1951. The book continued to be very popular with young adults for many years as an informative account of his major contributions. Gandhi is a historical account of the major events in Gandhi’s life and how they influenced the world community. Gandhi was an early civil rights leader whose style of peaceful protest was imitated by Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. Never violent, he served as an example to others that social change comes slowly and that freedom is a prize to be earned and constantly guarded. In a materialistic world, Gandhi: Fighter Without a Sword is an example for young people of the value of a life devoted to the cause of freedom and justice for people of all colors and creeds.