Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 383

Girls Burn Brighter, written by Shobha Rao, is a 2018 novel that takes place in India and America. This novel is about the friendship between two young girls named Poornima and Savitha as well as the struggles the girls face being poor, Indian women.

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The themes in this novel include: friendship, female empowerment, and domestic violence.

The theme of friendship is present in the novel from the moment Savitha and Poornima meet. The two girls are instantly intrigued by one another, and their friendship blossoms into one that will not easily break. The girls often dream of having better lives and talk about going to the movies with their husbands. Unfortunately, the girls both learn that life is not always perfect or easy, and that sometimes friendships can last even when they are separated. After Savitha is raped by Poornima's father, she flees their village. Poornima is devastated and promises to find her friend again.

Female empowerment is another theme in this novel. Despite the fact that both Poornima and Savitha are born in a country where women are not valued, both girls maintain their sense of self. Each girl believes in her own abilities, and they use these abilities to make their lives better. For example, when Poornima is married to an abusive man, she looks at his books and teaches herself how to keep records. She uses this to her advantage when she is caught up in a human trafficking ring. Poornima also feels empowered enough to learn English in her free time so that she has a better chance of being allowed to go to America to find Savitha.

The theme of domestic violence is also present in this book. At the beginning of the novel, Poornima's father mentions that it would be very easy to get rid of a daughter by simply pushing her in the river. He also is verbally abusive to Poornima and frequently tells her that she would not be a good wife because of her looks and attitude. Poornima's father rapes Savitha—unfortunately, this marks only the first of many instances of sexual violence for her. The amount of violence that exists between husbands and wives as well as the within human trafficking is worrisome and is an indication of the horrors of the modern world.

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