The Shadow Lines

by

Amitav Ghosh

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Jethamoshai Character Analysis

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 and piercing eyes. Years before the start of the novel, Jethamoshai and the girls' father began feuding, and as lawyers, eventually came to an agreement to build a wall through their shared house. After the wall was built, the two factions of the family stopped speaking to each other and lost contact. During the following fifty years, Jethamoshai held onto his pride and hatred of his brother's family. He even ran several of his family members out of the house and allowed Muslims to move in. One of those Muslim families, Khalil's family, cares for Jethamoshai in his old age when Mayadebi and Tha'mma return to take Jethamoshai "home" to India. Because he's still spiteful and is now a senile old man in his nineties, Jethamoshai is only persuaded to leave the house when he’s told that he's finally going to court to challenge his family for ownership to the house. He's brutally murdered by a mob within minutes of leaving the house.

Jethamoshai Quotes in The Shadow Lines

The The Shadow Lines quotes below are all either spoken by Jethamoshai or refer to Jethamoshai. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Shadow Lines published in 2007.
2. Coming Home Quotes

But you know, the strange thing was that as we grew older even I almost came to believe in our story.

Related Characters: Tha'mma (speaker), The Narrator, Mayadebi, Jethamoshai
Related Symbols: The Upside-Down House
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

Once you start moving you never stop. That's what I told my sons when they took the trains. I said: I don't believe in this India-Shindia. It's all very well, you're going away now, but suppose when you get there they decide to draw another line somewhere? What will you do then? Where will you move to? No one will have you anywhere.

Related Characters: Jethamoshai (speaker), Tha'mma, Mayadebi
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jethamoshai Character Timeline in The Shadow Lines

The timeline below shows where the character Jethamoshai appears in The Shadow Lines. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Coming Home
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
...them all. When Tha’mma was little, her part of the family ate with her uncle Jethamoshai’s family. Her grandfather was terrifying, and after his death, Jethamoshai attempted to take his place... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Jethamoshai was known for losing his temper, though the children felt relatively safe given that he... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Eventually, Jethamoshai and Tha'mma's father decided to divide the house in half with a wall. The wall... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...and took him yearly to visit family in Dhaka. Eventually, only Tha’mma’s parents, aunt, and Jethamoshai lived in the house, but their bitterness persisted. In 1931, Tha’mma’s parents died, and she... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...never got to see the upside-down house. She explains that she told Mayadebi that on Jethamoshai's side of the house, everything was upside down and backwards. She remarks that strangely, she... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
...park who was once a neighbor in Dhaka, and this friend claims that one of Jethamoshai's sons is in Calcutta. The narrator's parents aren't sure what to do with this information,... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
...tells Tha'mma that her husband went back to Dhaka several times to try to bring Jethamoshai back to India. She explains that the house in Dhaka is now inhabited by Muslim... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...could get her son a job. Tha'mma scoffs and changes the subject: she worries about Jethamoshai, and believes her last quest in life will be to bring him home to India,... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
...she's never taken a holiday and never will. She insists she'll go to bring back Jethamoshai. However, Tha'mma remains uncertain about actually going. (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...but she met a man who lives in the house, Saifuddin. Saifuddin is thrilled that Jethamoshai's relatives are coming, as he believes Jethamoshai will die soon. Mayadebi suggests that Tha'mma bring... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...Tha'mma to a bench to sit down, and Tha'mma reminds herself of her duty to Jethamoshai. Saifuddin explains that the old man isn't doing well, and insists that his guests have... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Tha'mma is in awe that Jethamoshai lets Muslims care for him when he used to not allow Muslims to get within... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Khalil arrives. He greets Saifuddin with deference and smiles widely at Jethamoshai's relatives, and May recognizes that Khalil isn't simple at all. He insists that Jethamoshai won't... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Tha'mma approaches Jethamoshai, but he yells at her to stop, sit down, and tell him about her case.... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Jethamoshai asks Tha'mma to describe her case, and Tridib loudly explains that they're relatives. Jethamoshai's face... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Tha'mma gives up, but Saifuddin insists they need to find another way to convince Jethamoshai. Khalil tells Tha'mma to not listen to Saifuddin, as he just wants to claim the... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Khalil miserably agrees, but says that Jethamoshai will only leave the house in Khalil's rickshaw if Khalil tells him he's going to... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...her and pushed her down and then continued to the rickshaw. He tried to pull Jethamoshai out of the mob, but the mob dragged Tridib in. After a moment, the mob... (full context)