In the short story "By Any Other Name" by Santha Rau, does a character have an epiphany or a realization? If so, where is it indicated in the story?

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Toward the end of the story, the two sisters' "lives changed rather abruptly" when the older one, Premila, suffers the humiliation of her teachers' assumption that she will cheat on her tests because she is Indian.

At that moment, Premila decides that the school is absolutely wrong and bad, and...

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Toward the end of the story, the two sisters' "lives changed rather abruptly" when the older one, Premila, suffers the humiliation of her teachers' assumption that she will cheat on her tests because she is Indian.

At that moment, Premila decides that the school is absolutely wrong and bad, and she enters her little sister's classroom to take her home; they never return to the school.

Here is the place in the story that reveals Premila's realization:

Premila said, “We had our test today, and she made me and the other Indians sit at the back of the room, with a desk between each one.”

Mother said, “Why was that, darling?”

“She said it was because Indians cheat.” Premila added. “So I don’t think we should go back to that school.”

So, does Premila's realization of the school's unfair treatment of Indians constitute an epiphany? I would say, probably not.

Epiphanies are sudden realizations that hit you all at once. They seem to illuminate a truth or a major insight in a quick flash, gripping you with a deep yet instant understanding of something you didn't know at all before.

In contrast with this definition of an epiphany, Premila's understanding of the school's poor treatment of Indian students was well-established before the testing incident. As her little sister Santha narrates, the Indian children have English names thrust on them at school, effectively erasing their cultural identities, and they're expected to sit in the back of the classrooms. Therefore, we understand from the beginning (and so do the sisters) that the school's attitude toward Indian children is hostile, discriminatory, and exclusive. The testing incident is simply a sort of climax to which all of this previous discrimination builds. This is why I wouldn't necessarily classify Premila's sudden realization and subsequent withdrawal from the school as an epiphany.

However, epiphanies do often provide a turning point in the plot of a story, or a way to conclude the story. In that case, Premila's realization does function like an epiphany. You could use that bit of information if you needed to argue that her insight was, in fact, a legitimate epiphany. You could also point to how words like "epiphany" can be used very loosely. For example, I could say, "I had an epiphany this morning. I realized I can pull plastic wrap out of the box without even removing the box from the drawer. Wow!" Of course, my "epiphany" does not change my entire world view or give me a deep insight into how I should live my life from now on, like a true literary epiphany does. But a listener would be overly picky if she insisted that I'd experienced a minor observation and not a true epiphany. For that reason, if you are okay with defining terms loosely, you can go ahead and call Premila's realization an epiphany.

The only other point to consider is whether Santha herself (the little girl narrating the story) also has an epiphany or major realization. Again, I would say that she does not. The adult Santha writing the story clearly understands its significance, which is why she's telling the story, but the young Santha narrating the tale understands what's going on and doesn't care:

Mother said, “Do you suppose she understood all that?” Premila said, “I shouldn’t think so. She’s a baby.”

Mother said, “Well, I hope it won’t bother her.”

Of course, they were both wrong. I understood it perfectly, and I remember it all very clearly. But I put it happily away, because it had all happened to a girl called Cynthia, and I never was really particularly interested in her.

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