The Shadow Lines

by

Amitav Ghosh

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Shadow Lines published in 2007.
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1. Going Away Quotes

I tried to tell her, but neither then nor later, though we talked about it often, did I ever succeed in explaining to her that I could not forget because Tridib had given me worlds to travel in and he had given me eyes to see them with; she, who had been travelling around the world since she was a child, could never understand what those hours in Tridib's room had meant to me […]

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tridib, Ila
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt a constriction in my throat, for suddenly it seemed to me that perhaps she was not so alien, after all, to my own small, puritanical world, in which children were sent to school to learn how to cling to their gentility by proving themselves in the examination hall.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Tha'mma
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

For Ila the current was real: it was as though she lived in a present which was like an airlock in a canal, shut away from the tidewaters of the past and the future by steel floodgates.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

I could guess at a little of what it had cost her then to refuse her rich sister's help and of the wealth of pride it had earned her, and I knew intuitively that all that had kept her from agreeing at once was her fear of accepting anything from anyone that she could not return in exact measure.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tha'mma, Mayadebi, Mother
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

I would have been frightened, she said. But I would have prayed for strength, and God willing, yes, I would have killed him. It was for our freedom: I would have done anything to be free.

Related Characters: Tha'mma (speaker), The Narrator, Tridib
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

She had given me away, she had made public, then and for ever, the inequality of our needs; she had given Ila the knowledge of her power and she had left me defenceless, naked in the face of that unthinkable, adult truth: that need is not transitive, that one may need without oneself being needed.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Mother
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

They know they're a nation because they've drawn their borders with blood […] War is their religion. That's what it takes to make a country. Once that happens people forget they were born this or that, Muslim or Hindu, Bengali or Punjabi: they become a family born of the same pool of blood. That is what you have to achieve for India, don't you see?

Related Characters: Tha'mma (speaker), The Narrator, Ila
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

But I knew I had made a mistake the moment I said it; I should have known that she would have nothing but contempt for a freedom that could be bought for the price of an air ticket. For she too had once wanted to be free; she had dreamt of killing for her freedom.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Tha'mma
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] I thought of how much they all wanted to be free; how they went mad wanting their freedom; I began to wonder whether it was I that was mad because I was happy to be bound: whether I was alone in knowing that I could not live without the clamour of voices within me.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila, Tha'mma
Page Number: 88
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:

Well of course there are famines and riots and disasters, she said. But those are local things, after all—not like revolutions or anti-fascist wars, nothing that sets a political example to the world, nothing that's really remembered.

Related Characters: Ila (speaker), The Narrator
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

I lay on my back, staring up at the ceiling, and as the hours passed I saw Ila again and again as she was when she stepped out of that car at Gole Park, eighteen years ago; on that morning when she wrenched me into adulthood by demonstrating for the first time, and for ever the inequality of our needs.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Ila
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

The price she had paid for that pride was that it had come to be transformed in her imagination into a barrage of slights and snubs; an imaginary barrier that she believed her gloating relatives had erected to compound her humiliation.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tha'mma, Mayadebi
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

But he did know that was how he wanted to meet her, May—as a stranger, in a ruin. He wanted them to meet as the completest of strangers—strangers-across-the-seas—all the more strangers because they knew each other already. He wanted them to meet far from their friends and relatives—in a place without a past, without history, free, really free, two people coming together with the utter freedom of strangers.

Related Characters: Tridib (speaker), The Narrator, May Price
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

But if there aren't any trenches or anything, how are people to know? I mean, where's the difference then? And if there's no difference, both sides will be the same […] What was it all for then—Partition and all the killing and everything—if there isn't something in between?

Related Characters: Tha'mma (speaker), The Narrator, Mother, Father
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

They were all around me, we were together at last, not ghosts at all: the ghostliness was merely the absence of time and distance—for that is all that a ghost is, a presence displaced in time.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tridib, Ila, Snipe
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

Everyone lives in a story, he says, my grandmother, my father, his father, Lenin, Einstein, and lots of other names I hadn't heard of; they all lived in stories, because stories are all there are to live in, it was just a question of which one you choose […]

Related Characters: The Shaheb (speaker), Ila, Tha'mma
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

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:

I was a child, and like all the children around me, I grew up believing in the truth of the precepts that were available to me: I believed in the reality of space; I believed that distance separates, that there is a corporeal substance; I believed in the reality of nations and borders; I believed that across the border there existed another reality.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tridib
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

His atlas showed me, for example, that […] Chiang Mai in Thailand was much nearer Calcutta than Delhi is […] Yet I had never heard of those places until I drew my circle, and I cannot remember a time when I was so young that I had not heard of Delhi or Srinagar.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tridib
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

They had drawn their borders, believing in that pattern, in the enchantment of lines, hoping perhaps that once they had etched their borders upon the map, the two bits of land would sail away from each other like the shifting tectonic plates of the prehistoric Gondwanaland.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Tridib, Tha'mma
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.