A number of questions for “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” have been provided to help readers think about themes in the book and to stimulate discussion among community members.
1. The author has said that while the book brings to light serious injustices, she believes there is also hope on almost every single page.
• What are the qualities of a child like Sunil that might flourish in a society that did a better job of recognizing his capacities?
2. Boo’s story emphasizes the volatility of an age in which capital moves quickly around the planet, government supports decline and temporary work proliferates.
• Does uncertainty about their homes and incomes change how Annawadians view their neighbors?
• Does economic uncertainty affect relationships where you live?
3. Zehrunisa remembers a time when every slum dweller was roughly equal in his or her misery, and competition between neighbors didn’t get so out of hand. Abdul doesn’t know whether or not to believe her account of a gentler past.
• Do you believe it?
• Might increased hopes for a better life have a dark as well as a bright side?
4. Asha argues that something isn’t wrong if the powerful people say that it’s right.
• Does she have a point? Where have you seen examples of this?
5. In Annawadi, Asha takes a series of calculated risks to give her daughter Manju a life far more hopeful than that of other young women such as Meena.
• What does Asha lose by her efforts to improve her daughter’s life chances?
• What does she gain?
• Were Asha’s choices understandable to you in the end? <
• How was education viewed in this context?
Adapted from © Behind the Beautiful Forevers. All Rights Reserved http://www.behindthebeautifulforevers.com/discussion-guide/
© 2010 City of East Lansing & MSU