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Anil's Ghost

Post Colonial Criticism

Sherkhan Nasim

on 24 January 2013

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Transcript of Anil's Ghost

A Post-Colonial Criticism Anil's Ghost
Civil War Balance between East and West A gruesome Civil War goes on in Sri Lanka

Lasts over 20 years, killing an estimated 80 to 100 thousand people

The true number remains unknown

Extrajudicial Executions covered up and uninvestigated Local Official who works alongside Anil

Character is distant and quiet due to his personal history. His wife commits suicide.

Political Affiliations are ambiguos throughout, it is never clear whether he is a friend or foe to Anil's investigation.

Places his safety in jeaporody to assure Anil's investigation
Through this his loyalty and morality is proven

Sarath Diyasena A simple explanation is Anil's struggle to Unify her past in Sri Lanka and America with her present life

Ghost resembles two things:
-The skeleton. 'sailor' that they work to identify. In a single entity the skeleton is symbolic of all the victims of the war.
-The destruction of innocent lives haunts Anil and drives her to identifty the victim as well as the murderer.

The Sri Lankan Atrocities. Sarath could be 'Anil's Ghost' for his sacrifice for Anil.

Significance Behind the Title Young Forensic Pathologist born in Sri Lanka and sent away on Scholarship to America. While here, had a relationship with Cullis. The doomed relationship is reffered to as she copes with the destruction of Sri Lanka

Throughout the novel her history is addressed frequently. She was a prodigal swimmer as a child.

Returns to investigate murders connected to the civil war on UN mission
Works alongside Sarath Diyasena
The two discover a skeleton and work to identify the victim

Anil Tissera Michael Ondaatje Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka 1943 -Colombo is the novel's primary setting Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Novels main setting The year is 1980 Anil's Ghost explores the legacy left behind by this war Palipana
Grove of Ascetics Saraths former teacher and an epigraphist

A blind wise man who lives like a hermit in what appear to be ruins, or The Grove of Ascetics.

Anil and Sarath seeks his guidance to uncover Sailors Identity

He refers them to a sculptor who can re construct the face in clay Ananda Once a painter who took part in an ancient ritual involving the painting of eyes onto a holy statue

Lives alone as a drunk after the death of his wife, even in the midst of the Sri Lankan conflict

Often Clashes with Anil but still helps her reconstruct Sailors face nonetheless. Makes a peaceful face rather than a realistic one, this symbolizes his loneliness from his lost wife.

Attempts to committ suicide but is saved in time by Anil and Sarath

Gamini Sarath's younger brother, also known as "The Mouse"

Helps Anil and Sarath care for Gunesena, a man found brutally wounded on the side of the road.

Had been in love with Sarath's wife and accompanied her while being rushed to the hospital during her suicide where he confesses his love before she dies

Spends most of his time at the hospital, barely sleeping and addicted to speed Story begins with Anil's arrival in Sri Lanka after 15 years abroad.
Discovers the bones of a skeleton who's death had to be recent

Anil does not fully know where Sarath sits politcally
Becomes suspicious and questions him as well as censoring what she says.

They visit Palipana. The Grove of Ascetics. Refers them to a painter.
On the way Anil meets Gamini. An emergency doctor intricately involved in the Sri Lankan affairs because of heavy amounts of operations on civil war victims.
Gamini tells them about the Sri Lankan atrocities. They go on to meet Ananda whose able to reconstruct Sailor's face then tries to kill himself.
As Anil prepares her reports to present to authorities on her 'state sponsored' terrorism evidence, the skeleton goes missing.

She goes on with her presentation using a different skeleton.
Sarath shows up after a lengthy mysterious absense and ridicules her infront of everyone, claiming she can't backup her facts with the skeleton she has.

Out of frustration she leaves the building but is frequently stopped and inspected along the way, it is plausible that she is raped along the way but it is not directly stated. All her belongings and researched are seized and shes left with nothing

Outside she meets Sarath who surprised her with the body of Sailor placed in a van.
Instructs her to create a fake report for the government and leave the country the next morning. Anil does so hoping the evidence will be sufficient but Saraths actions consequently lead to his death.

Personal Anecdotes and novel Structure.

Novel is divided into 8 Sections: Sarath, Grove of Ascetics, A Brother, Ananda, The Mouse, Between Hearts, The Life Wheel, and Distance Each section deals with a narrative corresponding to a particular subject or character. E.g the mouse deals with Gamini. Most of the sections open with italicized personal anecdotes or historical context that introduce characters or issues that are not actually discussed until later in the novel.

Events from the past are usually unadressed by the novel and described in these anecdotes, giving no true reference to the relevance or importance of the passages. Mostly told from third person narrative from the perspective of one of the characters.

This creates a sense of urgency for the individual expiriences depicted in the anecdotes that contrast the rest of the novel.

This urgency reflects the urgency of the individuals that are victims of the war and have untold stories. They all have stories that remain untold. Symbols Sailor
The only real evidence to implicate the government Serves as a symbol for all the nameless victims killed in the civil war
Like the rest of the victims, Sailor has been burned beyond recognition and his identity is lost. His remains serve as the only voice that can bring justice to the victims. Ananda's peaceful sculpture Ananda reconstructs the head of Sailor with a peaceful expression

The head represents the peace Ananda wishes for his late wife, and for the rest of the country.

The juxtaposition with the heads peaceful, yet decapitated state is symbolic of the immense death in Sri lanka, covered up by the government making it appear as if nothing is wrong. The head is peaceful looking, just like Sri Lanka, but is truly chaotic in morbid underneath.

Religious Symbols Eyes and sight of Buddha (enlightenment)

Vision is extremely important theme because it relates to enlightenment. This theme permeates the novel through the use of eyes, and sight imagery especially with the painting ritual.

The eyes are not painted until the end of the novel. As long as Westerners and Sri Lankans alike do not open their eyes and acknowledge what is happening, there will be no progress

No names for the victims and identity of the enemy, since the eyes are blind so is the nation. Anil attempts to balance her life in Sri Lanka with her westernized life. Anil balance of East and West describes two entirely different worlds that are actually incredibly close to one another. Somewhere there is a horrifying civil war going on, while not far away everything is calm and fine in the world. Anil's double life mirrors today's society on a global scale. Effects of War A tremendous focus is placed on the effects of war on individuals.
Families are torn apart because of kidnappings, and are too scared to talk about it risking their own lives being taken, so they go on with life like its normal. This is the biggest indicator that life has gotten so disfunctional it becomes a norm. Some (Ananda) try to escape through suicide, while others (Palipana) escape with solitude and isolation. This presents the idea how entire societies choose to remain blind and deaf to the war, just hoping for peace.
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