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Aloo and the narrator of the story are the youngest children in a singleparent family. Their older siblings have all left home. Their mother is a
widow who has raised five children on her own. Aloo wants to study
medicine, not agriculture. He harbours the ambition to go to America to
study. He writes to some American Universities hoping to get a
scholarship. When a well-known American University offers him a
scholarship, Aloos dream looks set to come true. However, his mother
says that she cannot afford to send him to America. Aloo is very upset.
Mother seeks advice from Mr Velji, a school officer. He tells her that
getting scholarship is good for Aloos future he also cautions her that she
may lose him if she lets him go so far away. Seeing her sons
disappointment, Mother decides to let her son go in the end.





Aloo writes home from London where he has stopped to visit

an old schoolmate. THe letter reveals his fascination with the
foreign land.

Mother goes to Mr Velji for advice. He confirms that the

scholarship is a great opportunity for Aloo. After thinking
about it, Mother relents and finds the money to send Aloo to
America. Before giving in, she makes Aloo promises not to
marry foreign wife and stay away from bad habits.

Mother says that there is no money to send him to America .

She accuses Aloo of being a disloyal son for wanting to leave
her. Aloo is very upset.

Aloo spends time with Mr Datoo, an ex-teacher at their local

school who moved to America and returns for a visit. Aloo
starts dreaming about going to study in America. He writes to
American universities to apply for a scholarship. A famous
university offers him a scholarship.

exposition After Aloo's sister Razia married and leaves home, their

mother sells her shop and they move to Upanga, a remote

part of town. She wants her two youngest children to have a
better life instead of helping in her store.


Characters and

The youngest child in the family

Finishing secondary school
A smart student- achieve all As in the school exam

Character traits
Obedient dutiful child




Examples of textual evidence

Promise his mother not to
marry a foreign wife and to
avoid smoking and drinking.
Writes home soon after he
leaves. (p.40)
Wants to study medicine.
Writes to universities in
America. (p.32)
Willing to work in America to
get money for his studies.
Looks up names of
universities in books to apply
for scholarships on his own.
Wants to go another country,
likes travelling. (p.32)
Cries and shouts when
mother does not support his
decision to study in America.
Angry at Mr Velji remark.

Became a widow at the age of thirty-three
Ran a shop business in town
Character traits

Strong and independent

Responsible mother

Loving, protective

Possessive of her children



Examples of textual
Raised five children without a
husband. (P.38)
Her children are polite and
Reminds Aloo not to smoke and
drink when he is away from
home (p.40)
Gives up her shop so that her
children can focus on their
studies instead of helping her in
the shop (p.31)
Refuse to remarry for the sake
of her children (P.38)
Narrator remembers how
Mother used to hug him/her so
tightly that is was hard to
breathe (p.40)
Sad to see her daughters leave
home (p.31)
Does not want her son to leave
her (P.34)
Lets Aloo go to America even
though she knows that he may
not return to her and that she
may lose her youngest son
Makes Aloo promises not to
marry a foreigner (p.40)

The fourth of the five siblings
A university student
Character traits

Examples of textual evidence

Understands Mothers
struggles and sacrifice for


Responsible, mature


Quite , passive

the children when she

choose not to remarry (p.38)
Plays card games with
Mother when she is sad
Mother looks to him/her for
confirmation about the
scholarship offer (P.34)
Notices when Mother is sad
Watches what happens but
does not interfere

Mr Velji

A school officer
He has a large head, a small neat body and looks clever
Character traits


Examples of textual
Understand Mothers concern`if you send him, you will lose
your son (p.37)

Mr Datoo

An ex-schoolteacher who went to America

Influences Aloo to dream of going to America to study


The oldest of the five siblings

Married and lives in the same town with her husband


The second of the five siblings

Married to a rich man and lives in the town called Tanga


The third of the siblings

He did not complete his final year in school
He works in the office of a big shop

The story opens in a small town in Tanzania, in a less populated area called
Upanga. The family has moved there from Kichwele Street which was later called
Uhuru Street. There are only a few houses in Upanga and it adjoins a forested
area. The sound of insects, small animals and the wind rustling leaves are in
sharp contrast to Kichwele Street where the sounds were of vehicles in a busy

Physical setting

Kichwele Street/ Uhuru
Central part of Dar es
Salam, the commercial
capital of Tanzania.

Social setting
Present day Tanzania, Africa
In this society ,education is highly regarded
School officers and school teachers are respected and influential

Key event
Where Aloos family lived
before his sisters left home
to be married
Aloos mother has a shop
Where Aloos family moved
after Mother sold the shop

Life was hard for women and children. If a woman remarries, her
children from the first marriage cannot stay with her but are sent to
a childrens home.
The education system does not allow students to choose their
course of study - `nobody could change the list (p.33)


Leaving and letting go

Loneliness and sadness
Understanding the sacrifices of others
Having hope for the future
Understanding ones finance

Moral values

Aloos mother became a widow at a young age. She had five

children to care for. If she remarried she would have an easier life.
However, in their country, her children from the first marriage will
have to go to a childrens home. She refused to marry again
because she wanted to keep her children safe with her. She
sacrificed the hope of an easier life for the sake of her children.


Aloos mother could have married again so that she had a husband
to take care of her. However, for the sake of her children, she
decided to be self-reliant and take care of her family herself. She
provided for the family by opening a shop. Her children have turned
out well.

By: M.G Vassanji