The Shadow Lines

by

Amitav Ghosh

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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 got to accompany his mother, aunt, Tridib, and May to fetch Jethamoshai from his mother's childhood home when he was thirteen. He witnessed the riot that killed Tridib, which left him with PTSD and a recurring nightmare that haunts him into adulthood. As a student and an adult, Robi is very particular about behaving properly: the narrator suggests that Robi has an absurdly strong moral compass, which makes him willing to follow even the most ridiculous of rules. He's also a celebrated ringleader at Indian colleges, though he doesn't participate in any of the student protests due to his respect for rules. Ila finds his uptight nature tiring and offensive, particularly when he attempts to put her in her place as an Indian woman.

Robi Quotes in The Shadow Lines

The The Shadow Lines quotes below are all either spoken by Robi or refer to Robi. 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:
Get the entire The Shadow Lines LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Shadow Lines PDF

Robi Character Timeline in The Shadow Lines

The timeline below shows where the character Robi 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
...finally, the narrator asks Ila if she remembers how, as children, Ila, the narrator, and Robi used to go find Tridib and listen to him talk about all sorts of things.... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Years later, when Robi, the narrator, and Ila are drinking in a London pub, the narrator reminds Ila about... (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
In the pub, the narrator tries to explain to Ila and Robi the "archaeological" Tridib, but Ila is contemptuous. The narrator insists that if they don't use... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Robi interrupts the narrator's story to say that the two didn't look alike at all, and... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...hadn't seemed afraid at all. Tha'mma tells the narrator and Tridib that she thinks that Robi would've been like that boy, had he been alive then. (full context)
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
The narrator returns to his story. He and Robi, who was a few years older, sized each other up as Tha'mma greeted the Shaheb... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Ila interrupts, saying she couldn't have been wearing that dress. Robi rolls his eyes and remarks that Ila had trunks of dresses. The narrator remembers the... (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 Ila, he knows she has... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Robi informs the narrator that the Germans didn't develop bombs powerful enough to destroy entire streets... (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... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
...Ila arranged an impromptu trip to Calcutta at a time when both the narrator and Robi had been home. Upon the narrator's return home, his mother fed him lunch and Tha'mma... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
A few days later, Robi, the narrator, and Ila spent a hot afternoon in Ila's room. Once the sun set,... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Robi became a leader in college because he viewed the world simply and followed the rules... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Ila finally managed to convince Robi to go. She led Robi and the narrator to the hotel, and the receptionist showed... (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
The female performer stepped out and began flirting with a nearby table of middle-aged businessmen. Robi growled that he'd punch the performer if she came close, but fortunately, the woman stepped... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
When the businessman agreed to dance, Robi got up, snatched Ila by her blouse, and pushed the businessman back. He paid a... (full context)
2. Coming Home
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Years later, Robi tells the narrator that the first thing Tha'mma said to Mayadebi was, "where's Dhaka?" Her... (full context)
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
The house is big, and thirteen-year-old Robi loves it. It has a big flat roof, tall walls, and a beautiful garden in... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Social Standing and Pride Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
When Robi wakes up on Thursday morning, the sounds outside his window are normal. He wants to... (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, Mayadebi, Tridib, May, and Robi approach the house. Children take May's hands as they walk. When they reach the gate,... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...guests finally notice Jethamoshai on a bed. He's so old that he's almost childlike, and Robi shrinks back in fear. (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...look at the house and then walk towards the car. The driver is frantic, but Robi doesn't see anyone in the empty streets. They drive a short distance and suddenly, Robi... (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
Robi talks about Tridib's death for the first time in London, the day that Ila takes... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Robi angrily describes his one foray into the old part of Dhaka, where his mother was... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Robi stares at the guard's revolver and feels a thump on the hood of the car.... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
The car won't start, and as Robi looks back, May has gotten out and approaches the rickshaw. She yells that everyone in... (full context)
Freedom and Identity Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
Robi lights another cigarette and says that when he was running a district, he used to... (full context)