In the book "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo, what are major cases of character growth/change? With the exception of Abdul, the characters seem rather stagnant. Are there any other...

In the book "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo, what are major cases of character growth/change? With the exception of Abdul, the characters seem rather stagnant. Are there any other instances where the characters really grow in the book?

Asked on by kingshapa

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It's funny, but Abdul is not the character I thought of immediately when you mentioned "growth/change."  I am glad you gave that example, and I see what you mean about his "epiphany," but in my opinion, it is Fatima and Manju who are the best examples.  Fatima is an example of negative change while Manju is an example of positive change.

First, let's look at the character of Fatima. Remember her original description from the very beginning of the book:  "See Fatima minutes earlier, dancing on crutches to a raucous love song, her delicate features unscathed."  Why is Fatima dancing on crutches?  Fatima only has one good leg.  She spends her time dreaming of a better life than that in the Annawadi slum.  Fatima, though, changes from encouraging her positive dreams to the unfortunate result of going about them in the wrong way.  Fatima eventually gives a false testimony to police.  Fatima implicates Abul while she is laying in pain after setting herself on fire.  She dies from her self-inflicted burns.  Fatima's "change" ends in her own death.

Next, let's look at the character of Manju (so that we can end our discussion on a positive note).  Manju has the unfortunate misfortune of being Asha's daughter.  Why is this unfortunate?  Asha is a ruthless slumlord, inspiring confrontation to increase her own status.  The good thing is, Manju watches her mother and does not like what she sees.  Manju vows not to be like her mom.  Full of compassion, Manju wants to be the first one in her family to graduate from college. Manju always wants to promote peaceful interaction in the slum while her mom, Asha, wishes to promote continual discord.  In my opinion, then, it is Manju that is the best representation of the "growth" you ask about in your question.  The offspring of a ruthless slumlord, Manju grows into a mature young woman.

In conclusion, keep in mind that the term "growth/change" in your question is significant.  Growth has a positive connotation.  Change can either be positive or negative.  Manju becomes the representative of growth.  Fatima can be considered a representative of negative change.  Also, don't negate the fact that Boo, as the author, has grown as well.

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