Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth


Book Summary

Leela is a spoiled girl in India.  Her family belongs to the highest caste, or social group, which means there are certain traditions she is expected to uphold.  Leela was married at age nine, but she still lives with her birth family.  She is preparing for the ceremony when she will go to live with her husband and his family, and looking forward to the clothes and parties in her future, but her young husband's sudden death makes her a widow.  Leela must shave her head, wear brown, and stay in her house for a year of mourning.  She must never marry again, and she is miserable to think her life is over when she is only twelve. 
Political unrest in India brings a wave of new ideas about the roles of men and women, but Leela lives in a small town where change is viewed with suspicion.  What kind of future exists for her?

Keeping Corner book cover
Keeping Corner

Book Review

Many readers will relate to the conflict between societal expectations and individual desires.  The book provides a rich starting point for discussions about why traditions continue, even if they are harmful to some groups, and how difficult it can be to try to make changes. The book references Gandhi's ideas about nonviolent protest, and these are woven naturally into the context of the characters' perspectives.

Left quotation mark

Being a widow means keeping corner for the rest of your life, and I can't let that happen."  p.212

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Family Relationships
  • Community Traditions
  • Female Roles and Opportunities in 1970s India
  • Effects of Social and Political Changes on Individuals
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Family Responsibilities

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions Coming Soon**

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