The Shadow Lines

Topics: The Shadow Lines, Amitav Ghosh, Dhaka Pages: 7 (2624 words) Published: December 9, 2013
Novel : The Shadow Lines
AUTHOR : Amitav Ghosh
Awards : winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award (1989).
Bibliography : The Shadow Lines(novel), Wikipedia(Internet). Main Characters : Mayadebi, Tridib, Ila, May, Narrator, Nick, grandmother.

The novel is set against the backdrop of historical events:
1.Swadeshi movement
2.Second World War
3.Partition of Country
4.Communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka and Calcutta

The characters in this novel – except that of Tridib – are realistically portrayed and are not larger than life. Each one is portrayed with all the weaknesses that make them endearing. Each one is believable . But Tridib does not seem to belong to this world. He comes across as a ‘seer’, someone endowed with extra-sensory and extra-visionary abilities.

1. Narrator : The protagonist is a middle class boy who grows up in a middle class family. He is sexually attaracted to Ila but he never tells her. He is very close to his grandmother and knows about her more than anyone. As a young boy he seldom gets to travel farther than his school. And yet his world spans far beyond, across continents. He paints up this world, rather vividly, borrowing colours from others. He uses Tridib’s eyes to view a certain family in London, their house, the streets, the panic of war. He uses his grandmother’s eyes to see her life in Dhaka as a young girl, her uncle and cousins, the other side of the big house where everything was upside down. He uses his cousin’s eyes to view different parts of the world where she travelled, her aspirations for belonging, her heartaches caused by a reality as different from her dreams as she and her background was from those with whom she lived in those foreign lands.

2. Tridib : He was the son of Mayadebi, and so by relation he was the second uncle of Narrator. He is well-travelled but he prefers to live his life in Calcutta, where he works at a Ph.D. in archaeology. For Tha'mma, he is very irresponsible person who wastes his life wandering across the streets but narrator loves to listen to Trideb. He passionately believes that 'a place does not merely exist, that it has to be invented in one's imagination' . He was killed by Muslim mobs in communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka.

3. Grandmother of Narrator (Tha'mma) : She is the headmistress of girls school in Calcutta. She is very strict, disciplined, hardworking, mentally strong and patient lady. Time is very precious for her. According to her, time is a toothbrush; it goes mouldy if it isn’t used. She had been awarded a Bachelor’s degree in history by Dhaka University. She has a dreadful past. She was married to an engineer with the railways, in Burma. In 1935, her husband passed away.

4. Ila : She is the cousin of narrator. She lives in Stockwell, London. She is very good looking, and broad minded. She wants to be free. According to her, the constraints on women in India made their life horrible. That’s why she lived in London, so that she could do whatever she wants. She marries Nick, an Englishman, buys a home, finds a job, tries to settle down but without success.

5. May : She is the daughter of Prices family, who are relatives of Tridib’s family. Tridib was in love with her. She is committed to a purposeful and principled social life. She is kind-hearted and works for society by collecting funds for famine relief in Africa, and other social services.

6. Nick : He is a good looking blonde having long hairs and wants to become a Chartered Accountant. As May says to narrator: 'He is different, he is not like us'. He lacks the sensibility and moral values of a normal human being. He marries Ila and is cheating on her as he admits sleeping with other women.

Apart from all these characters, there is a fantasized character "Magda", Ila's fantasy child whom she acknoledges when she was playing 'houses' with the narrator. Magda is blue-eyed and blonde and has very bright and...
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