What idea or experience can you connect to Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whelan's Homeless Bird shows how the experience of being a girl is different throughout the world.

Reading about Koly makes us realize that being a girl is not the same throughout the world.  Koly's experience in India is different from a girl of the same age who lives in a place like America or England. For example, Koly's experience as a daughter differs from girls in other parts of the world. She must endure being sent out of her home at an early age for marriage and then have to experience the fact that she will never be able to go back home.  This is something that many girls in the west do not have to endure.

Koly moves from a girl to a woman in a strikingly quick amount of time.  She marries early and then becomes a widow at an unnaturally young age.  She is subjected to abuse from her mother-in-law and then must wrestle with social sanctions about how a widow must behave.  Girls in the west do not have to wage such battles.  Koly must think twice about falling in love with Raji, a reality that girls in other parts of the world would not have to experience.  If a guy was good to them and wanted to be with them, girls could simply accept it.  However, Koly's experience as a girl in India forces her to respond differently to his overtures.

We are not in control of where we are born. It is jarring to realize that something we have no control over plays such a defining role in our life.  This triggers reflective thought about what we would do if we were in Koly's position. As a result, Homeless Bird increases our awareness that being a woman is different throughout the world.

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