Running in the Family is a fictionalized memoir, written in post-modern style, involving aspects of magic realism, by Michael Ondaatje. It deals with his return to his native island of Sri Lanka, also called Ceylon, in the late 1970s. In the passage “The Bone,” Michael shares a story about his father. The entire passage is filled with strange imageries, metaphors, and again that blurred line between fact and fiction. The passage takes place within Michaelï¿½s past; actually the story is about his father. The story takes place in a time before Michael was born, which means the story was told to Michael on his trip to Sri Lanka.
Michael Ondaatje in this chapter really crossed the line of reality and went into fiction. In no way is anything in the passage real. The perspective of the novel as well as this passage is always a mystery. The true perspective of this passage is addressed. Within the passage the literary devices, which are used to emphasize the fiction of Michael Ondaatje brings, as well out the actual fiction of the story of Michaelï¿½s father, which is basically a story retold to Michael.
The perspective of Running in the Family is that of Michael Ondaatje, Michael Ondaatje is the famed author of The English Patient and the writer of this memoir. Nothing political or religious is mentioned in this novel or brought out of the pages of the book. Instead, Michael is focused on close social relationships of his family and friends. Despite the fact that Ceylon was a colony of various imperial powers beforehand. In Ondaatje’s postmodern style of writing, he does not take up discussions of colonialism at any time. It is as if it did not exist. Normally these types of issues of colonization are shown within the author’s writing; however Michael Ondaatje completely ignores these situations, as if it did not affect people’s life and opinion.
Ondaatje’s perspective is that of a middle-aged man, reconstructing his youth in a far-off and often magical-seeming place, Ceylon or modern-day Sri Lanka. He also writes from the perspective of a child wounded by his parents’ divorce and his father’s addiction to alcohol. Since there are many references to Michael drinking. The entire novel has many stories of Michael’s family, especially stories about his father. This passage it about the one story that confuses Michael and upsets him. Clearly the unrealistic story he heard of his father is hurtful to him. The story is about his father losing control and as well losing himself, his humanity. Michael can relate to this, since he is trying discover himself as he reveals information about his family.
Literary devices truly form this passage and are the main structure to it. Also the literary devices make everything unrealistic. “In one hand he holds five ropes, and dangling on the end of each of them is a black dog. None of the five are touching the ground.” No man can carry five dogs like that. The super human strength Michael’s father has all of a sudden, is unrealistic, as well as impossible. “He is holding his arm out stretched, holding them with one arm as if he has supernatural strength.” Michael finds it hard to believe his father could do that. It is difficult for the reader to tell if the speaker, Michael is retelling the story in fiction or was the story told to him in fiction.
The fiction of this passage is beyond surreal. “Terrible noises are coming from, him and from the dogs as if there is a conversation between them that is subterranean, volcanic. All their tongues hanging out.” This image Michael shares with the reader is very vivid and eerie. The way he talks about his father and the way he is communicating to the dangling dogs is an image that cannot be formed. The reader can practically hear the “conversation” Michael’s father is having with the dogs. The “conversation:” sounds chaotic, uncivilized, and as if Michael’s father has become a pure savage. The entire passage is represents the savageness of Michael’s father. “He was a man who loved dogs. But this scene had no humor or gentleness in it.” This further contributes to the savageness of Michael father’s action as a dog loving man turned into a man who dangles dogs. Before he ran in to jungle he was known for the man who loved dogs, and now to hang them up by ropes, is not something a man would do if he loved dogs. Michael’s father runs into the forest the second he gets of the train, this ties into the tittle of the novel Running in the Family. Through the fiction of this passage, it shines a new light on Michael’s father, which is rather strange.
Overall the passage “The Bones” brought Michael’s father through a change. This change made him retreat to his instinctual roots, and basically turned him into a crazed, savage, man. He was so far gone he didn’t even recognize is own friend. “He did not recognize Arthur, he would not let go of the ropes.” What could he have gone through? In conclusion the fiction of the story about Michael’s father seems highly unlikely to be true. However, if it somehow was true, the reader can assume Michael’s father was going through awareness, whether it was under the influence of Alcohol, who knows.