In addition to the discussion questions provided, the resources listed below can be used when teaching Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines. Additionally, the resources offer insight on how to teach subjects and themes explored in the novel, such as British colonialism in India, ethnic tensions, and general immigration stories, for example.


  1. Approaches to Teaching the Works of Amitav Ghosh
    1. This book discusses scholarship surrounding Ghosh's works and outlines a variety of different intersectional approaches to take when teaching and discussing Ghosh’s writing. A number of critical lenses and themes are presented in this book, lending a richer understanding of Ghosh's works, including The Shadow Lines.
  2. Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines: Critical Essays
    1. This book is a collection of critical essays that address The Shadow Lines. Reviewing the commentary and analyses presented in this work may offer educators deeper insight on the work as a whole and inspiration for ways in which they can discuss and teach the novel.
  3. PBS Muslim-Hindu Conflict in India Lesson Plan
    1. This lesson plan provides educators with a number of resources they can use to teach about the ethnic conflict between Muslims and Indians in India. These resources can help teachers prepare and conduct a lesson on this topic, and additional activities are also provided.
  4. Teaching Immigration
    1. This resource is a collection of lesson plans that address how to discuss immigration and immigrant stories in the classroom. These plans can help educators and students better understand the immigrant narratives explored in The Shadow Lines.


Abigail Kaye 2020

Questions about style

Consider the following questions:

Why did Ghosh separate his novel into two sections, entitled “Going Away” and “Coming Home”? What is the significance of these titles?

How do you feel about the novel’s style? What might be gained by it being written as a story within a story told from multiple perspectives? Are there any drawbacks to this approach?

Questions about characters

Consider the following questions:

Compare different characters’ relationships with movement and migration. How have these experiences affected them?

Does the novel have a main character? If so, who is it and what makes them the main character? If not, why not?

Do you think there’s any significance in the narrator remaining anonymous throughout the novel? Why or why not?

At the end of the novel, May tells the narrator she used to blame herself for Tridib’s death but now considers it a sacrifice. Does this statement make it seem like she’s still in denial about his death? Who, if anyone, is responsible for Tridib’s death?

Questions about broader themes

Consider the following questions:

Freedom is one of the key themes in The Shadow Lines. How do different characters define and seek freedom? What does freedom mean to you? How is it found or achieved?

Tha’mma asserts that belonging somewhere requires sacrifice. What do you think someone has to do in order to belong in a particular place or be accepted as a member of a certain group?

What do you think of Ghosh’s description of national boundaries as “shadow lines”? What does that say about the borders themselves, and about the nationalist sentiments that emerge as a result of these borders?

What postcolonial elements can be found in this novel? How do they influence the work?


Abigail Kaye 2020

  1. A History of British India Video
    1. This resource is an insightful video that explores the colonial relationship between India and Britain, as well as the effects of that relationship. It presents useful historical background information that offers context for the colonial and postcolonial experiences and themes found in The Shadow Lines.
  2. Al Jazeera Photos
    1. This is a collection of photographs that explore the complex relationship between Indian and Pakistan, as well as Hindus and Muslims, decades after the 1947 Partition. These pictures provide a contemporary update on the events and experiences centered around these borders and the partition that are explored in The Shadow Lines.

Abigail Kaye 2020

Comments are closed