Study Guide

Homeless Bird Marriage

By Gloria Whelan

Marriage

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriageā€”or so it usually goes (at least according to the song). In Homeless Bird, however, none of these take place in the right order for Koly. Babies aside (since she doesn't have any), her first marriage is arranged and her husband is dead before she has a fighting chance of loving him. And then once he's dead, Koly's shot at future love and marriage is practically zilch since widows are damaged goods in her society and nobody wants them.

Luckily, Koly learns to love herself and then finds Raji, a man who appreciates her and truly loves her for who she is. Which is good since she totally loves him, too. Phew.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Are you surprised that Koly agrees to marry Raji by the end? Why do you think we don't see her in her new married life? How does this influence the ending and what does it foreground in Koly's story as we do see it unfold in the book?
  2. Why is marriage so important in Koly's culture? How important is marriage to Koly? Explain how this changes and/or stays the same as the story progresses.
  3. What is up with dowries? What does this tell you about marriage in Koly's world? Compare and contrast this to you own concept of marriage using examples from the text.
  4. Do we encounter any happy marriages in the book? If so, which and why are they happy? If not, what does this tell you about marriage as a theme?

Chew on This

The thing that makes Koly most unique is her belief that marriage is connected to love.

The Mehtas might be manipulative, but in treating marriage as a financial arrangement they're actually operating within society's expectations for the institution.

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