What does Santha Rama Rau's story "By Any Other Name" tell the reader about identity?

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Rau's "By Any Other Name", published in 1951, is about racial identity in British colonized India. The essay is told from the perspective of five-year-old Santha, who, with her sister Premila, is sent to an English school in India. As soon as the girls arrive at the school, the headmistress gives them "English names" for school—Priscilla and Cynthia. This act of renaming foreshadows that the British school system will not respect the children’s Indian racial identity. Although Santha feels neutral about this new name, hesitantly accepting it and the new school, she does feel as if Cynthia is a different person. One theme the author explores, then, is the effect of naming on persona and psychology. Santha does not feel the weight or history of her past when she is at school. As "Cynthia," she focuses on wanting to have a cotton dress like another girl and eat British style sandwiches to fit in.

However, when Premila is made to sit in the back of the classroom with the other Indian...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 866 words.)

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