On Violence‎ > ‎Unit 3: Partition‎ > ‎

Political Cartoons

Political cartoons can reveal a lot about a moment or event in history. Students gravitate towards images, but they are not always the easiest to understand and often require a decent amount of background knowledge. Political cartoons are often layered and complex. I like to remind students that like any other piece of writing, political cartoons are still representations of a particular perspective and are not in and of themselves factual representations of people or events. Most of the cartoons on this page are from Leslie Illingworth. He became Chief Cartoonist for the satirical magazine Punch in 1945, but remained with the Daily Mail until his retirement in 1969. 

Partition: Cartoon Analysis 
Directions: Study the cartoon for two minutes to form an overall impression, and then examine individual items. You will need to look at both the “Visuals” and “Words”. Write your answers to the questions on this sheet. 

Step One: Observation
1. List the objects or people you see in the cartoon.
2. Describe any action that takes place in the cartoon.

Step Two: Inference
1. Which of the objects on your list might be symbols?
2. What do you think each of the symbols means?

Step One: Observation
1. Identify the cartoon caption and/or title.
2. Locate three words or phrases used by the cartoonist to identify objects or people within the cartoon (Not all cartoons include words)
3. Record any important dates or numbers that appear in the cartoon.

Step Two: Inference
1. Which Words or phrases in the cartoon appear to be the most significant? Why do you think so?
2. List adjectives that describe the emotions portrayed in the cartoon. 

Step Three: Synthesis
1. In your words, explain how the words in the cartoon explain or clarify the symbols.
2. In your own words, explain the message of the cartoon.
3. What groups would agree/disagree with the cartoon’s message? Why?
4. What questions does the cartoon raise in your mind? Where might you find answers?

New Indian policy, March 31, 1942

Historical context: On March 29 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps, special envoy from the Cabinet, unfolded British plans for full independence for India when he met Mr Gandhi in New Delhi. He produced a draft declaration which, if accepted by an Indian constituent assembly, would mean Indian self-government after the war. The sub-continent could be either one Dominion, or two, if the Moslems preferred that. There would be special arrangements for territories ruled by the Indian princes.

Move over, Marmaduke, this brute needs bringing to its senses, August 12, 1942

Historical context: August 9, 1942 - Gandhi and other Indian leaders were arrested following pro-independence riots.

Civil war and famine threaten India, May 14, 1946

Historical context : On May 16 1946, Attlee announced plans for an independent united India.

Free India, May 20, 1947

Historical context: On May 23 1947, the British cabinet took the step of agreeing to Lord Louis Mountabatten's proposal for the partition of India into two states, one Moslem and the other Hindu.

Partition plan, June 4, 1947

Historical context: On June 2 1947, a fire at a rubber dump in Mitcham, London blots out the sun in the area and on May 23 1947, the British cabinet took the step of agreeing to Lord Louis Mountbatten's proposal for the partition of India into two states, one Moslem and the other Hindu.