Animal’s People by Indra Sinha

2977 Words12 Pages
Language through Names and Naming in Animal’s People
“For his sort we are not really people. We don’t have names” (Sinha 9).

In the second chapter of Animal’s People, its protagonist Animal talks about eyes, eyes that fill the darkness, that appear whichever way he looks, and look for things to see. He says eyes come whenever he starts talking, they quietly watch and patiently wait, and then settle like flies on the pictures that are born from everything he says.
“In this crowd of eyes I am trying to recognize yours. I’ve been waiting for you to appear, to know you from all the others, this is how Kakadu Jarnalis in his letter said it would be. He said: ‘Animal, you must imagine that you are talking to just one person. Slowly that person will come to seem real to you. Imagine them to be a friend. You must trust them and open your heart to them, that person will not judge you badly whatever you say.’ You are reading my words, you are that person. I’ve no name for you so I will call you Eyes. My job is to talk, yours is to listen. So now listen” (ibid. 13-14).
Animal asserts his position as the novel’s narrator by addressing his readership as Eyes, drawing from Jarnalis’s instructions on how to tell his story. Jarnalis told him to envision a presence, an undefined person who will soon come to feel like a friend he can be honest with and tell them his story. Animal turns the metaphor around: he says the eyes became real and started haunting him until from the undefined crowd emerged a single pair of them, Eyes, the reader themselves. The reader soon realizes they will not be a passive consumer of the story nor an omniscient presence observing the developments from the bird’s-eye’s view, but rather eyes fixed on Animal, unable to loo...

... middle of paper ...

... lines fade when Animal receives a letter informing him he can undergo a surgery to correct his spine and make him walk upright.
Animal’s narrative voice ends the novel in an ambiguous way, confronted with a hard decision he has to make about the surgery: “If I’m an upright human, I would be one of millions, not even a healthy one at that. Stay four-foot, I’m the one and only Animal” (ibid. 366). The decision seems to remain open-ended, leaving space for interpretation and imagination by Eyes. However, despite the unreliable narrator’s guiles, the novel’s ending allows the reader an upper hand. When Animal sees Ma Franci in one of the last acts and she tells him they will meet in paradise, his assertion comes as a direct response to Farouq’s claim that “[p]aradise is for humans, not for animals” (ibid. 208): “I know that one day I will meet her there” (ibid. 365).

More about Animal’s People by Indra Sinha

Open Document