What is the stucture of Dharma?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The structure of Dharma is quite unique in that it begins with an unnamed narrator in a bar while he is talking to a friend about a haunted house.  While this is a traditional beginning to a frame story, mystery still seeps throughout the whole work (including the end where the frame is suddenly non-existent). 

Let's talk a bit more about the frame: the narrator, his friend, and the discussion that follows.  As the narrator speaks with his friend about the haunted house, Subramanian, an elderly gentleman and a retired community servant, starts to tell the main story about Jago Antia.  Once the true story begins (the one about Antia), we are never told the conclusion of the haunted house story or the happenings of Subramanian again.  This purposeful lack of frame structure at the end leaves the reader wondering.

The meat of the story is told, structurally, through flashback.  We hear all about Antia who fell from a balcony and lost a leg as a result.  As he stands, naked and waiting for help, he reminisces about his childhood.  Again, this strange flashback structure with no respect for time leads to the feeling of mystery.  It seems that the short discussion of the haunted house in the beginning of the frame story is more important to content than the fact that Subramanian is telling the story.

In conclusion, Dharma is exceptionally interesting because Chandra is able to still provide an atmosphere of mystery within something as traditional as a frame story, especially through failing to provide closure by not closing the frame.  In short, Subranamian is never heard of again.

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