What are some personality traits and descriptions of Asha in Behind the Beautiful Forevers?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is clear in this narrative that Asha is a very forceful woman who is extremely determined and resolute, thanks to the hardships she has faced in her life. For example, the second chapter details how in spite of her alcoholic husband, she managed to work hard to bring up their children and also how she has placed herself in a position of some responsibility in the slum, as she has sorted out various disputes and issues and is seen as a woman who can make things happen by the slum dwellers. This chapter also makes it clear that above all else, she is ambitious for power:

Robert had lost his taste for power just as she was discovering her own. Let others thread the marigolds. Let others sort the trash. For the overcity people who wished to exploit Annawadi, and the undercity people who wished to survive it, she wanted to be the woman-to-see. 

She is a woman then who is determined to succeed and to gain power, and her resolute nature is shown in the way that she has managed to already gain some status even as a woman in a man's world. However, more negatively, her response to Raja's plea for money to help him have an operation shows her to be rather cold-hearted and callous. So determined is she to rise up in the world that she will do anything it takes, ignoring personal relationships along the way. Asha is therefore presented in a somewhat negative light overall, although it is clear that her determination to succeed and her ambition are not necessarily negative traits in their own right.

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