The Shadow Lines

by Amitav Ghosh

Start Free Trial

What is the role of the narrator's uncle Tridib in fashioning the narrator's perception of life in The Shadow Lines?

Quick answer:

Uncle Tridib helps fashion the narrator's perception of life through his storytelling and emphasis on imagination. His elaborate tales of London stimulate the narrator's desire to travel there but also instill unrealistic expectations of what he will encounter there.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Shadow Lines, Tridib is the narrator’s beloved uncle, who later dies in a mob attack. As the narrator is growing up in India, Uncle Tridib is the person the boy admires the most. As the child appreciates the attention his uncle pays him, so too does the man appreciate the audience his nephew provides. A born storyteller, Tridib is caught up in the life of the imagination and sees the world romantically rather than practically. From listening to Tridib’s tales of life in England, where he had lived as a child in the 1930s, the narrator develops a deep longing to visit that country. When he finally gets to London, however, the fantastic visions lodged in his mind—along with the massive changes since World War Two—prove more of a hindrance than a help in coping with normal daily life.

The extent to which Tridib’s views influenced the narrator is contrasted to the highly practical worldview of his cousin Ila. The narrator struggles to avoid adopting the fact-based perspective that Ila routinely espouses. The adult narrator argues for the centrality of imagination, the perspective that guided his uncle. He maintains that facts can be selected and even altered to fit the reality that one desires. He tries in vain to convince Ila that everyone’s ideas of places and things have been constructed out of their own imagination.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial