The Narrator’s Perception of Cosmopolitanism in Amitav Ghosh’s “the Shadow Lines”

Topics: The Shadow Lines, Amitav Ghosh, Culture Pages: 4 (1376 words) Published: April 8, 2009
The Narrator’s Perception of Cosmopolitanism in Amitav Ghosh’s “The Shadow Lines”

“The whole world is a man’s birthplace.” This quote by the Roman poet Publius Papinius Statius shows us the basic idea of cosmopolitanism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as “the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated.” In other words, cosmopolitanism is the theory that a person belongs to no country or nationality and that they only belong to humanity and the world as a whole. In the novel The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh this controversial idea is a major theme. Many of the characters believe in cosmopolitanism in different forms. The unnamed narrator takes his own stance on cosmopolitanism which in his own way, directly relates to the theory defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. To the narrator of The Shadow Lines, a person is cosmopolitan if they accept other cultures, travel and hold value to their travels, and have great imagination. In the narrator’s mind, he is cosmopolitan because he is accepting of other cultures, especially that of the English culture. When the narrator’s cousin, Ila, first describes Nick Price, the child of their age in the English family of the story, the narrator immediately wants to be like him. He admits, “After that day Nick Price…became a spectral presence beside me in my looking glass…always bigger and better, and in some ways more desirable” (Ghosh 49). The narrator, from moment Ila first mention’s Nick, sees Nick as his mirror image, yet an unattainable model in which the narrator will never be able to reach. The narrator, throughout the rest of his life, does everything he can in order to be thought of as similar to Nick Price, an English boy of the same age. By trying to emulate such characteristics, the narrator proves his acceptance of other cultures, the English culture in this...

Bibliography: "Cosmopolitanism." Merriam-Webster.
Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines. Viking Penguin, 1989.
Kleingeld, Pauline, and Eric Brown. "Cosmopolitanism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 23 Feb. 2002. 16 Nov. 2008 .
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