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Michael Ondaatje's autobiographical novel, Running in the Family, is an imaginative reconstruction of the author's family history. A mixture of fact and fiction, the novel chronicles Ondaatje's attempt to gain insight into his own identity,

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Introduction

Fact and Fiction Running in the Family Essay One Michael Ondaatje's autobiographical novel, Running in the Family, is an imaginative reconstruction of the author's family history. A mixture of fact and fiction, the novel chronicles Ondaatje's attempt to gain insight into his own identity, by better understanding his parents and relatives. Through the stories of his family, Michael Ondaatje merges the lines of fact and fiction. "Gillian begins to describe to everyone present how I used to be bathed when I was five. She heard this story in detail from Yasmine Gooneratnem, who was a prefect with her at Bishop's College for Girls. (p.137)" During these family events, stories are told to and we, the reader learn more about Michael's family. Within the entire novel, blurs of the lines of fiction and fact occur. "My Grandmother died in the blue arms of a jacaranda tree. She could read thunder." It is impossible to die in a tree that is blue, since trees are not blue. ...read more.

Middle

Thus this trip is a quest to fill that empty space. As Michael meets various friends or relatives, he listens to what they have to say about his father or family. Michael struggles to understand his father's life and his father's relationship with his mother. "The thing about Mum was she was a terrifically social person. And he came down to Colombo and swept her up and took her to the tea estate. OK. They were in love, happy with each other, they had kids. But later there was nothing for her to do there." This beginning of this quote is of pure happiness but it slowly merges into a depressing quote. His mother was happy and madly in love with his father. Then later she has nothing to live for after she had children and her life is settled, it's depressing. After Michael's parents were married, Mervyn brought 'Mum' to Tea country, which "held her captive." It is sort of romantic to be "kidnapped" by your lover. ...read more.

Conclusion

Michael comes to realize that while these stories about his parents are exaggerated and contradictory stories. These stories captured the spirit of the 1930's generation of aristocrats in Ceylon. This may be a reason why the memories within Running in the Family blur through the lines of fact and fiction, since the person telling Michael the stories, were most likely drinking. His informers do not inform him of what he really wants to know. They do not tell him about his father's thoughts and experiences, anything of "the closeness between two people," of how his parents "grew in the shade of each other's presence." Even though Michael learns a lot about his parents, they will not fill the emptiness he feels because people only know a certain amount of their parent. Only his parents know what they thought and the reasons behind what they did. In the end, Ondaatje recognizes that his father will remain "one of those books we long to read whose pages remain uncut." Ondaatje can rely upon only faith and imaginative insight as means fill that void. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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