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Article Published In Vol.8 (May-June 2020)

Alterity in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

Pages : 447-449, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14741/ijmcr/v.8.3.15

Author : Shobitha M.N

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The post-colonial stance aims in destabilising universal monopolies and becoming inclusive of the otherwise ‘othered’. Ondaatje toys with the idea of ‘representation’ and subverts the ‘walling in’ and ‘walling out’. He problematises the textuality of history and uses the novel as a response to biased histories. The mundane is made to appear sublime and polyphonic voices demonstrate how invisibility does not equate with absence. The story as an experienced space highlight the many sidedness of truth. The working class experiences are thus used to point at the insufficiency and gaps in prejudiced documentation. Maybe it is Spivak rephrased; it is not ‘can the subaltern speak?’ but, ‘the subaltern speaks, are there listeners?’. The construction workers transcend their identities as just workers and we get an insight into their life too, sharing their emotions of love, grief, longing, solitude etc. Every character is projected in such a way that first impressions only evolve to grow depth. It can be argued that, the ‘othering’ need not be strictly based on class, race etc but can operate in more complex ways. The idea of representation is further explored by employing themes of ‘darkness and light’ throughout the novel. Not only through content, but also through form is the deconstruction achieved. There is formed a third space between fact and fiction in the narrative’s lyrical quality. This paper explores how Michael Ondaatje in In the Skin of a Lion, uses the form and content of the narrative to explore and practice alterity in its myriad dimensions.

Keywords: Monopolies, representation, textuality, alterity, solitude.

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