Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje

“Running in the Family,” is a book about Michael Ondaatje, in search of his family’s history. It is about going in depth and crossing all limits, in search of where we belong to. Michael Ondaatje discovers himself and his family.

Just like every protagonist, Michael Ondaatje undergoes major emotional changes throughout his journey, even though he does not mention any of his emotions in his book. This could be because he did not want to write anything about himself, he simply did not want portray himself as the main character, or as someone around whom the whole story revolves. Michael Ondaatje wrote the book as a portrait of gesture for his family, and more precisely for his grandmother, and his father. The book is a kaleidoscope of memories, where Michael Ondaatje attempts to trace his ancestry.

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Even though he does not reveal them, we do get a hint about his emotions as we read his memoir. One of the important things that tells readers about Michael Ondaatje’s character, are his dreams. In the very first chapter he mentions a dream that he had about his father, that encouraged him to visit his hometown in Sri Lanka. However, that might not be the very first time he would have thought of Sri Lanka and his ancestors. The thought must be haunting him for quite a while, so much so that it even hijacked his dreams. Even the chapter is ironically named, “Asia,” because although he was in Canada, he was, “dreaming of Asia,” (Ondaatje, 4).

This shows his frustration of no longer being able to handle his present situation, and an urge to visit his family in Sri Lanka. This also proves that he was indeed very emotionally attached to his family by their missed their presence. This was especially true for his late father, whom he barely met. He said that, “my[his] loss was that I[he] never talked to him,” (161). During the course of his journey in Sri Lanka, he does not mention any other significant dream. This symbolises that final.

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