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How are the relationships between adults and children portrayed in Anil?
The story is set in Malaysia on a hot night in March; a young boy who lives in remote village witnesses a terrible tragedy and is forced to forget what he saw and keep quiet about it. The headman of the village sends him to university so that the dark secrets don’t escape within the village; Anil finally realises the true nature of his corrupt town.
Anil’s relationship with the family seems distant, this is because they are not well integrated and certain aspects of their relationship can be described as dysfunctional. Reason being is it lacks the bond and communication that a family relationship should have. The causal aggression that the father has on Anil is shown with ‘the bruise on her shoulder’ suggest that there is no real bond between them and it shows within Anil as he comes across as ‘different’ compared to the villagers in the story he has his own opinions and understands justice in some sides. Anil is presented to be very childlike at the tender age of 7 he calls his mother ‘Amma’ when he is desperate for the toilet this shows the reader he depends on her for the littlest things, but the fact she doesn’t respond back shows there is no room for conversation and that is why Anil is always seen having dialogue in his head rather than him actually speaking his mind. Anil’s father is said to be a ‘bully’ to Anil and his mother he has no bad feelings on the fact Anil is aware of the violence he causes on his mother; this is the main reason why they have such a broken down family unit.
The adults presented in the story such as the headman, Marimuthu and Anil’s father all have an evil and corrupt side of them especially the headman he is the symbol of absolute authority and power and he uses the villagers’ ignorance as an advantage. Anil is the only child presented in the story so his relationship with the headman isn’t sufficient enough to be classed has a relationship because Anil has never spoken to the headman, due to the fact he is poorer than him and is on the bottom of the social hierarchy, however the head man is the one to lead him away once he hears that Anil has some information about the death of Marimuthu’s wife ‘‘you killed her. You killed your wife’’. Oddly enough the headman doesn’t use a patronizing tone that most adults would use on a child who done or seen something they shouldn’t have; it must be because ‘there was no stars that in morning’’ or in other words Anil had lost the desire to dream and had grown up. The relationship the villagers have to the head man is quite passive as they agreed with him no question asked, this differs compared to Anil’s growing curiosity that leads him to be more active than the villagers
All in all the relationship that the villagers have with the headman is almost a metaphor on how the relationship with the parent and child should be because parents are more active and children are more passive, Anil however challenges this view but is taken away to University his father had picked education over basic family principles and the fact justice can be sacrificed over the secrets of the village shows that the relationship that Anil and his father has is now gone and shattered because he has entered a new world