Study Guide

Chandra Mehta in Homeless Bird

By Gloria Whelan

Chandra Mehta

Beautiful, spoiled, but also kind-hearted, Chandra becomes fast friends with Koly as soon as they become sister-in-laws. The two confide in each other, share their secrets, and even stand up for each other. Chandra applauds Koly's quilting skills and defends her to her tyrannical mother, making it clear that though she's pretty, she also has a backbone and she isn't afraid to use it.

Despite the bond Chandra shares with Koly, though, she's very different from our main girl. Perhaps the biggest difference between them is that Chandra doesn't yearn for more out of her life. When Koly learns to read, Chandra's response is, "'I could never learn such things'" (4.31). Since we're pretty confident that anyone can learn to read, what this actually reveals is that Chandra doesn't see the point in reading, perhaps because she knows she'll have a laundry list of chores as soon as she becomes a wife and very little downtime.

Thing is, she's right… sort of. Chandra does get married and have household chores to keep on top of, but she also regrets not figuring out the magic in books. When she returns for her dad's funeral, she makes it clear that she wants to know more about reading and poetry, but now feels she doesn't have time to learn. Sorry, Chandra—Koly did warn you.

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