Writing about themes to attract high grades requires a sound knowledge of the text. We need to track the way an idea is explored across the novel, and how it may be presented - through events, through characters, or through the author's narrative style.
As we understand some of the literary techniques used by the author to present a theme, we may need to evaluate the effectiveness of their presentation. This means coming to some kind of personal opinion, thinking in terms of 'how far' do I agree or disagree, and giving reasons for your own assessment.
By the way, it may feel bold, and even disrespectful, if you don't think that a writer has conveyed a point effectively, but if you can support your opinion with evidence form the text then don't feel you have to always approve, just because it is selected as a GCSE text!
We have seen that the themes in this novel are often presented using juxtaposition. For example, when Meera Syal is exploring ideas about family, she presents different types of families that we can compare.
We can see this as a pattern and a literary device that she employs to present different themes. It is a sophisticated form of 'show, don't tell' so that we are able to draw our own conclusions and not feel that the writer is preaching to us.
In this activity, we will look closer at the major themes and how we can evaluate them within the framework of literary fiction.
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.