The Shadow Lines

by

Amitav Ghosh

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Nick Price Character Analysis

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 narrator recognizes that Nick is his opponent for Ila's affection and therefore feels as though he grows up in Nick's ever more mature shadow, even though he doesn't meet Nick until they're all adults. Though Ila idolized Nick as a child and the two likely did play together, he also refused to stand up for Ila when she was a victim of racial violence. In adulthood, Nick floats somewhat aimlessly through life, coasting on opportunities afforded to him through his privilege. His sister, May, implies that Nick was fired from his last job for embezzlement. Not long after Nick and Ila marry, Ila discovers that Nick has several other girlfriends and no intention of giving any of them up. Though she decides she could never leave him, she does punish him by embarrassing him at dinner parties.

Nick Price Quotes in The Shadow Lines

The The Shadow Lines quotes below are all either spoken by Nick Price or refer to Nick Price. 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.
1. Going Away Quotes

I said: I'm not meeting you for the first time; I've grown up with you.

He was taken aback.

That must have taken some doing, he said drily, since I grew up right here, in boring suburban old West Hampstead.

I've known the streets around here for a long time too, I said.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Nick Price (speaker), Tridib, Ila, Robi
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

I began to marvel at the easy arrogance with which she believed that her experience could encompass other moments simply because it had come later; that times and places are the same because they happen to look alike, like airport lounges.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Nick Price, Alan Tresawsen, Dan, Francesca, Mike
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
2. Coming Home Quotes

I could think of nothing to say; nothing that would console her for the discovery that the squalor of the genteel little lives she had so much despised was a part too of the free world she had tried to build for herself.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Nick Price
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nick Price Character Timeline in The Shadow Lines

The timeline below shows where the character Nick Price appears in The Shadow Lines. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Going Away
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
...narrator to get under the table with her to play a game she played with Nick. She explained that Nick is Mrs. Price's son, and they walk to and from school... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
The narrator's father visited Mrs. Price when Nick was thirteen. He was impressed by Nick's composure and asked Nick what he wanted to... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
When the narrator took May to see the table and asked her about Nick, she said his hair wasn't truly yellow, and he wanted to be a chartered accountant... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Seventeen years later, the narrator finally meets Nick. The narrator, Ila, and Robi visit Mrs. Price, and as soon as the narrator sees... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Nick offers his hand to the narrator, and the narrator coyly says that this isn't the... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
When the narrator and Robi return to Ila and Nick, Nick is rambling on about Kuwait and not feeling pressure to get another job. Nick... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Back in Mrs. Price's living room, Nick jokes with the narrator and asks if he can find his way around the house,... (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
...pavement. Denise punched Magda. Magda closed her eyes in defeat, but heard the voice of Nick Price pulling Denise off of her. Nick had led Magda home, and the narrator says... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Three years later, after the narrator told May the story, she gently explained that Nick hadn't helped Ila at all, and in fact, he didn't even want to be seen... (full context)
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...they see her as a guest or as decoration in their house. He often finds Nick at Ila's house, and Nick strangely fits in with Ila's housemates. He sometimes proofs pamphlets... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...He arrives at the pub and wishes that he could hide and watch Ila and Nick, who are sitting together at a table, as to maybe understand their relationship. (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Ila has no interest in hearing the narrator's explanation for his lateness, and explains that Nick wants to come along since he's interested in the import-export business. Nick chats about his... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Nick points at a mosque and explains it was a synagogue when the area was Jewish... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
When the narrator finishes telling Ila and Nick this, Ila comments that they must've been happy in the house, since she lives in... (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
The entire argument bores Nick, so he leads Ila and the narrator into the travel agency. The agent isn't at... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...Price invites both Ila and the narrator for Christmas Eve dinner with her, May, and Nick. Ila is late, and when she arrives, she asks the narrator why he hasn't visited... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
May lightly suggests that Lionel Tresawsen would've made more of Kuwait. When Nick insists that Kuwait is a horrible place, May coolly says that Nick needs to stop... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Mrs. Price heads for bed as May and Nick settle Ila and the narrator on camp beds in the cellar. The narrator's heart bursts... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
...narrator's feelings. Ila kisses the narrator on the chin and runs upstairs to talk with Nick. The narrator lays in the dark and ruminates on that day that Ila stepped out... (full context)
2. Coming Home
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
...her visit to Calcutta for the first time the day after Ila's wedding. Ila and Nick married simply in London, and Mrs. Price invited a few people to dinner to celebrate.... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
...the child Ila holding him and crying, right after she told him the story about Nick Price and Magda. Back then, the narrator didn't understand then why she was crying. (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
...relaying it to the narrator and Ila, the narrator telling May, May introducing him to Nick. Later that day, Tridib had asked the narrator what he showed May in the storage... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...the present, Ila continues to cry on the narrator's shoulder. Finally, she says that it's Nick, and the narrator asks if he forgot to buy her roses. Ila is incensed. The... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
The narrator tells Ila she has to leave Nick, but she insists she loves him too much. Later when Nick arrives at Mrs. Price's... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
...leaving the next day and wonders why she sounds awkward. She explains that she and Nick have decided to take a short holiday, and tells the narrator to forget everything she... (full context)