Decoding the Futility of Borders: Some Observations on Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason

Author Name

Rajdeep Guha

Author Address

Content Editor, CL Educate Private Limited, New Delhi E mail id: [email protected]


Home, border, family, reality, nation


Amitav Ghosh has always been a champion of perception. He believes that perception of ‘home’ can be exercised through imagination and articulation which further enable his characters to cross borders of all kinds ─ political, cultural, racial, communal, linguistic and temporal. My paper examines Amitav Ghosh’s worldview as reflected in The Circle of Reason and which revolves around the perennial search for a meaningful existence for characters who have been displaced by the forces of globalisation. I explore the lives of the different characters, their motives and aspirations.

Furthermore, I believe that ‘home’ has been defined from various perspectives in the novel. To cite an instance, Ghosh draws the character of Zindi who runs a prostitution house in Al-Ghazira. For a character like Zindi, who was exiled from her own diasporic Indian community and thrown out from her husband’s place for not being able to bear a child, the business of prostitution creates a substitute family for her. Zindi bargains for an existence, through migration and subsequently, survives in a surrogate home where she manages migrant sex workers. The perspectival difference of the other migrant characters also demands attention. I explore the conditions of possibility the characters experience. In fact, I believe that all the major characters of The Circle of Reason try to constitute their own world and hence, motivate their actions through patterning of some kind. In the process, Ghosh’s characters challenge borders of every conceivable kind and construct an alternative ‘reality.’ I conclude the paper by observing that the limitations of the bordered nation-state are clearly evident in The Circle of Reason. ‘Home’ and family transcend borders and are always undergoing a process of reconstruction.


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