The Shadow Lines


Amitav Ghosh

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The Shadow Lines Characters

The Narrator

The narrator was born in Calcutta, India in 1953, where he lives with his parents and his grandmother, Tha’mma. He spends his entire childhood in Calcutta and spends a lot of it with his… read analysis of The Narrator


Tridib is the narrator's uncle. He's about twenty years older and is a very skilled storyteller. He often tells the narrator stories about the year he lived in London with the Prices. Tridib's sense… read analysis of Tridib


Ila is the narrator's cousin. They're the same age, and their families joke that they could be twins, but they're very different. Ila's family is very wealthy and she lives in a number of… read analysis of Ila


Tha'mma is the narrator's grandmother. As a young woman in British India, she desperately wanted to be a part of the terrorist groups that fought for India's independence from Britain. When Partition happened in… read analysis of Tha'mma

May Price

May is Mrs. Price's daughter. She's an infant when Tridib and his family are in London in 1939, and she's at least ten years older than her younger brother, Nick. May is an… read analysis of May Price
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Mayadebi is Tha'mma's younger sister. The narrator describes the two women as being like reflections in a looking glass. Mayadebi is lucky enough to marry the Shaheb, a wealthy diplomat. As such, she… read analysis of Mayadebi

Nick Price

As children, Ila introduces the narrator to Nick Price through stories she tells about playing with him in London when her family lives with his. He's several years older, blonde, and has long hair. The… read analysis of Nick Price


Jethamoshai is the uncle of Mayadebi and Tha'mma. When the girls were little, he was an eccentric man and was difficult to take seriously—though he was sometimes frightening because of his skeletally thin frame… read analysis of Jethamoshai


Robi is the narrator's uncle, though he's only a few years older than the narrator. When his parents, Mayadebi and the Shaheb, moved to Dhaka in 1963, Robi went with them. He therefore… read analysis of Robi

The Shaheb

The Shaheb is Mayadebi's wealthy husband. He's elegant, dignified, and the most important relative in the narrator's family, which earns him the admiration of everyone in the family but Tha'mma. Tha'mma resents him… read analysis of The Shaheb

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria is Ila's mother and the wife of Jatin, an economist. She acquired her nickname because she often sits proudly like Queen Victoria. She keeps a number of servants and has a… read analysis of Queen Victoria


The narrator's mother is a skilled and competent housewife who is exceptionally proud of her competence. She's briefly shaken when her mother-in-law, Tha'mma, retires and is in the house full-time, but Mother soon… read analysis of Mother

Mrs. Price

Mrs. Price is May and Nick's mother. She and her husband, Snipe, live in West Hampstead, London. She and Snipe take in Tridib and his parents when Tridib is a child, on the… read analysis of Mrs. Price
Minor Characters
Alan Tresawsen
Alan was Mrs. Price's brother and an intellectual living in London in time leading up to World War II. Alan lived in a communal house with Dan, Mike, and Francesca, and Mrs. Price believes that Alan rescued and smuggled Francesca out of Germany. He dies during the war.
Snipe was Mrs. Price's husband, and he died two years before the narrator first travels to London. He was a hypochondriac and when Tridib lived with the Price family, he often sent Tridib to the pharmacy to fetch him various remedies. He was, according to Tridib, an excellent storyteller.
The narrator's father is the only child of Tha'mma. He's a businessman in the rubber trade who becomes reasonably successful later in his career, and he greatly admires the Shaheb's elegance and dignity.
Jatin is Ila's father. He's an economist and moves his family frequently for his job.
Lizzie is a middle-aged nurse whom Queen Victoria hires to care for Ila. Though Lizzie speaks fluent English and even some Hindi, Queen Victoria insists on speaking to her in a made-up language that Lizzie can barely understand.
In the years leading up to World War II, Dan lived in a communal house on Brick Lane with Alan Tresawsen, Francesca, and Mike. He wrote for a Trotskyist newspaper and fascinated the young Tridib to no end.
Francesca is a young German woman whom Alan Tresawsen possibly smuggled out of Germany. She was extremely beautiful. The Price family lost track of her after the house on Brick Lane was bombed, as she was put in an internment camp for enemies and never heard from again.
Mike is a pudgy Irishman who lived with Dan, Francesca, and Alan Tresawsen in the years before the Second World War. He didn't like the Shaheb, and implied that he believed that all Indian people want to kill Englishmen.
Kerry is an American art student and a housemate of the narrator when he lives and studies in London.
One of the narrator's friends at college in New Delhi. He's a Marxist, and though he doubts the narrator's recollections of the 1964 riots, he helps the narrator look through old newspapers.
Montu is the narrator's best friend when they both live near Gole Park in Calcutta. They often try to one-up each other. Though it doesn't come up for a majority of the novel, Montu is Muslim, which makes him a target during the riots of 1964.
Lionel Tresawsen
Lionel Tresawsen was Mrs. Price's father and a close friend of Justice Chandrashekhar Datta-Chaudhuri. Tresawsen was a businessman and traveled extensively.
Mr. Justice Chandrashekhar Datta-Chaudhuri
The original patriarch of the narrator’s family by marriage, who began and nurtured the relationship with Lionel Tresawsen. He's the Shaheb's father.
Saifuddin is a motorcycle mechanic who moves into Jethamoshai's house to work and live after Partition. Khalil insists that Saifuddin wants Jethamoshai out of the house in Dhaka so that he can claim it for himself.
Khalil is a Muslim man who moves into Jethamoshai's house with his family after Partition. His family cares for Jethamoshai and he works as a rickshaw driver. Saifuddin doesn't think much of Khalil; he tells Mayadebi and Tha'mma that Khalil is simple.
One of Tha'mma's friend's maidservants who helps reconnect Tha'mma with her family in Dhaka.
One of the narrator's classmates in Calcutta.