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ANIL’S GHOST. ~ Grove of the Ascetics. Outline. General Introduction & Plot Summary Questions . General Introduction: Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).

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anil s ghost


~ Grove of the Ascetics

  • General Introduction & Plot Summary
  • Questions
general introduction sri lankan civil war 1983 2009
General Introduction: Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009)
  • Conflicts between Tamils and Sinhalese, escalating till the civil war erupted in 1983. (e.g. Black July [depicted in Funny Boy] started with the killing of 13 Sinhalese, followed by the riot in Colombo against Tamils)
  • Warbetween the government and LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers, a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island.
  • Author’s note – + antigovernment insurgents in the south.
  • pp. 17; 42
  • [later] -- a suicide bomber's assassination of a fictional Sri Lankan president
general introduction central issues
General Introduction: Central Issues
  • Anil’s Past experience in Sri Lanka
  • Anil’s Relations with Sarath, and with Cullis—both as an outsider (to Sri Lanka and to a marriage)
  • The role of Sri Lankan “teachers” (monk and academic), historical sites and landscape
  • [Later] Sarath’s Brothers, Sri Lankan artists
  • Archaeology and Forensic – implied meanings
  • Facts vs. Fiction, Power vs. Law
  • Destruction by the War; Life and Death
fragments in italics
Fragments in Italics
  • Miner's folk song
  • Anil with forensic team in Guatemala
  • P. 12 Cave 14, one of the Buddhist cave temples, was desecrated.
  • P. 31 *A government official is murdered on a train.
  • P. 39 The National Atlas of Sri Lanka: what it includes and leaves out; pp. 41 list of people who disappeared
  • p. 91-A day in the life of Ananda, a miner.
  • pp. 9- 11 Anil lands in Sri Lanka. Anil and her homeland.
  • pp. 13 - Anil at work: she examines victims of political violence, hands trembling when realizing how close the time of death was.
  • Anil in Serath’s lab (a ship): she examines skeletons from an ancient sacred cave and finds a fragment of bone which is recent.
  • pp. 22- Anil and her homeland: Anil visits Lalitha, an elderly Tamil woman she knew as a child.
  • Anil vs. Sarath: 27, 29, 44, 53, 63-64
  • pp. 33 Anil and her past lover: Cullis 99,102
  • pp. 44 Anil at work: driving to Bandarawela with Sarath, talking about their family members, and also about Sarath’s teachers--Palipana and Narada
  • pp. 50 as they excavate deep in the caves, Anil finds a whole skeleton which is new; they name it Sailor.
  • pp. 57 -- Anil at the rest house: about Sarath’s wife, about Anil’s illness, dreams, talks long distance to her friend Leaf; pp. 64- returns to Colombo and she continues to examine the skeleton.
  • pp. 66- Anil at work and her homeland: her name and swimming, pp. 70- Anil at work: gets Chitra to help find the first location of Sailor
  • pp. 74-- Sarath at work: puts plastics on the skeleton and cuts off Sailor's skull. Knows that they need help.
grove of aesthetics
Grove of Aesthetics
  • pp. 79 Palipana: Sarath’s teacher, the most respected, and then after an academic scandal, he retired into the forest to live in the ruins of an ancient monastery
  • pp. 84- blind, and cared for by a young girl, Lakma, his niece (90). Sarath and Anil go there, bringing the skull.
grove of aesthetics10
Grove of Aesthetics
  • pp. 96-99 To identify the skeleton, Palipana says they should find a ritual painter; he describes Netra Mangala (the ritual of painting eyes on statues).
  • Experience of loss pp. 99-101 Cullis
  • Experience of loss and gain: pp. 103- Lakma's story: as a 12-year-old, she saw her parents killed and became frightened of everything; the mutual support of Palipana and Lakma
  • Pp. 106: ritual of Palipana's death-- Lakma will carve an inscription for him at the edge of the water as he is dying. Palipana tells the visitors that the ritual painter he has in mind became a drunk now works in the mines.
  • pp.109 - murder again – On the road back to Colombo, they find a truck driver (Gunasena) crucified alive on the road, and bring him to the hospital.
rock graffiti in sigiriya pp 81
rock graffiti in Sigiriya (pp. 81-
  • Image source:
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • Where do you see influences of both colonialism and the civil war? (e.g. 12; 55-56; the hospital scene 38, on Lakma, and a truck driver)
  • How does Anil relate to Sri Lanka and her past (ghost 53 and pp. 22, 47, 67)?
  • What is Anil’s emotional status like as she goes back to Sri Lanka? e.g. Cullis and Leaf (63)
  • The work of forensic and archaeology and their connections with history, truth and power: 54-56, 65-66; 69
    • What can be the purposes of Anil’s work?
discussion questions13
Discussion Questions
  • The other related themes:
    • Sri Lankan “spiritual teachers” (the monk and academic), 80-81; 104-105
    • historical sites and landscape,
    • Trauma and embodiment of grief, and
    • continuation of life after death