Cracking India Summary
by Bapsi Sidhwa

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Cracking India Summary

Cracking India is a novel about the partition, or division, of India in 1947. It centers around the young Lenny, an upper class girl who suffers from polio. Because of her disease, she doesn't go to school, instead staying at home with her nanny Ayah. Lenny's isolated life lends to some naiveté, evident in how she treats the people surrounding her. Ayah draws groups of men with her beauty, and Lenny delights in the attention and milks the invalid status her polio gives her, as well as somewhat selfishly attempts to exploit her nanny's many suitors. Ironically, it is the interactions with these working class men that lead Lenny to start exploring the political and social strife brewing in her country. Through Lenny, the reader sees the differences between the major sects in contest in India: Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.

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The book stretches over a decade, and the reader sees Lenny grow up in the period between World War Two and Indian independence. From four years old to fourteen, Lenny's awareness of herself and her country grow throughout that decade. Lahore, where the book is set, is somewhat distant from the major cities and events, so it seems almost like a capsule of independent events. Lenny herself is Parsee, and therefore somewhat separated from these issues. This along with her polio stand her as a separate but involved spectator, and the complexity surrounding the Indian Partition is humanized through her experiences.