Michael Ondaatje's Running In The Family

1206 Words5 Pages
In Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, the idea of being exiled is explored as it relates to Michael's development of his plural identity. The interstitial space in which Ondaatje is trapped, makes it difficult for him to understand why he is both foreign and native to his father Mervyn and homeland Ceylon. Ondaatje's devotion towards putting together the pieces of his past, leads him to the realization that his sense of identity will always be incomplete. Michael uses the insufficient amount of closure he received after his father's death to demonstrate why his identity is left incomplete. His journey back to his homeland was in an attempt to discover the identity that is rooted from the biological connection he has with his father.…show more content…
After returning to Ceylon, Michael realizes that a lot has changed, he states: "As far as we go, they are only the negation of what we ourselves stand for and are" (78). Michael recognizes that no matter how long it has been or how far he goes, Ceylon will always be native to him. He will always feel the undeniable obligation to return to his true home. Michael also feels a sense of ownership towards Ceylon. For example: "We own the country we grow up in" (81). Michael's lasting memories of life in Ceylon makes him feel as though he has never left. Even though things have changed, and he now resides in another country, his country of origin will remain a part of his identity. In Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, he states: "Born in one place and choosing to live elsewhere. Fighting to get back to or get away from our homelands all our lives" (266). Michael describes the concept of being stuck within the interstitial space of his homeland and his desire to belong somewhere. This struggle demonstrates that exiles always have a desire to go back to their motherland no matter what the circumstances may…show more content…
Michael expresses: "I sat up on the uncomfortable sofa and I was in a jungle, hot, sweating" (21). His description of the "uncomfortable sofa" and feeling "hot, sweating" demonstrates how unfamiliar he feels upon his return to Ceylon. He compares it to a "jungle" which shatters the dream he had about returning to a more "tropical" landscape before his arrival. Michael realizes that he can never truly belong to Ceylon again. For example: "Ceylon is an experience—but heavens, not a permanence" (78). Michael describes Ceylon as an "experience", demonstrating the agony he feels about not quite feeling at home in the place he has been longing to return to all his life. Michael fails to recognize that the Ceylon he knew is no longer in existence. For instance, Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka demonstrating how much the country has changed since Michael first left. In the journal article about Salman Rushdie's Imaginary Homelands Rocio G. Davis states: "It may be that writers in my position, exiles or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss" (10). The "sense of loss" that Rushdie is referring to is demonstrated through Michael's journey back to Ceylon and his feelings of being "othered". The loss that he is feeling is the part of his identity that started in

More about Michael Ondaatje's Running In The Family

Open Document