The Shadow Lines


Amitav Ghosh

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The Upside-Down House Symbol Analysis

The Upside-Down House Symbol Icon

The story of the upside-down house comes to represent the polarizing power of borders and the stories people tell about them. After Tha'mma's father and Jethamoshai divide their house in half with a wall, Tha'mma tells Mayadebi, who was too young to remember when the house wasn't divided, that their aunt, uncle, and cousins do everything backwards. She insists they drink tea out of buckets, and eat dinner at breakfast time. Over time, Tha'mma almost comes to believe this fantastical story she tells, if only because she never goes to the other side after the division. Tha'mma crafts the story that the people on the other side are very different from her, when in reality, they're no different—and in fact, are family.

The Upside-Down House Quotes in The Shadow Lines

The The Shadow Lines quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Upside-Down House. 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
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:
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The Upside-Down House Symbol Timeline in The Shadow Lines

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Upside-Down House appears in The Shadow Lines. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Coming Home
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...admits that there's one regret she has about Dhaka: she never got to see the upside-down house. She explains that she told Mayadebi that on Jethamoshai's side of the house, everything... (full context)
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Memory, Storytelling, and Reality Theme Icon
Borders, Violence, and Political Unrest Theme Icon
...courtyard and into a grimy room in the house. Mayadebi and Tha'mma laugh: nothing is upside-down. Khalil sends his wife to make tea, and the guests finally notice Jethamoshai on a... (full context)