Mithoo is an important character in the novel “Shabanu Daughter of the Wind” by Suzanne Fisher Staples. Mithoo is a camel, but he is a reflection of Shabanu’s character and life circumstances. Born as his mother was in death throes after she was bitten by a poisonous snake (15), Mithoo was birthed by Shabanu, signaling the beginning of their special relationship. The circumstances surrounding Mithoo’s birth reflect Shabanu’s life, the life of a desert nomad, where “death is more inevitable than life” (16). Nomadic life in the desert is harsh. Uncertainty about the weather makes it unpredictable (4). While traveling, there may be tribal bandits (68) that attack. Sometimes, rich landlords can abuse the powerlessness of desert girls without fear of being punished by law (153) and this can lead to family feuds and tragic deaths (166). Mithoo is not only a symbol of Shabanu’s difficult life, he is also a reflection of her character. Shabanu is a free spirit who loves to be outdoors and taking care of camels (28). Similarly, Mithoo is a camel who naturally likes to dance when he hears a rhythm, like clapping or singing (239). Both Mithoo and Shabanu have the gift of a free spirit. It is this shared gift for freedom that makes Mithoo a symbol for Shabanu. When they are running away so Shabanu would not have to marry Rahim Sahib, Mithoo breaks his legs. Shabanu realizes that “Mithoo, like me, has lost his greatest gift by following his heart” (239). Mithoo’s broken leg signifies Shabanu’s broken dream. She dreams of being like Sharma, independent and following her own path, but instead her willfulness has hurt her best friend—Mithoo. In the end, Shabanu gives up running away because she realizes that she cannot run away without hurting her entire family.
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