End of The British Rule in India: Historical Fiction

1805 Words8 Pages
History is all around us. Everywhere we are, everywhere we have been or ever will be is what it is because of the people and events that have affected and effected it. But sometimes events transpire that are so huge, learning about them through a traditional manner such as history classes or nonfiction books does not work. Sometimes history needs to be absorbed through fiction, more specifically, through historical fiction. Events such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the fall of the British Empire and subsequent removal from India, the emergence of Pakistan as a self-determined nation, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks are such events. By diving into fiction as a way to understand, we are able to better understand both human nature and the events that shook the world. In this paper, I will argue that when history is fictionalized it becomes easier to absorb the information about the shocking events that have occurred. Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows provides the framework for these four events as historical fiction. By examining all that we can from this source, we will learn much about ourselves as well as history. The first event to occur, both chronologically and in the book, is the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. We are told by our narrator, Hiroko Tanaka, of how the “Sunlight streams through, pushing the clouds apart even further. […] And then the world goes white.” (Shamsie 23) This vivid description adds to the readers understanding of how shocking and unexpected the bombing was. People were not expecting the bomb to drop on Nagasaki, because as Hiroko told her fiancée Konrad Weiss a few pages earlier, “Nagasaki would be spared all damage because it was the most Christian of Japan’s cities.”... ... middle of paper ... ...7 pages in, when only one other important character has yet to be introduced), the Pashtun youth eventually orbits close enough to the Tanaka-Weiss-Burton-Ashraf family sphere to be considered the crucial element in the story’s ending (and also its prologue). The collision of ideas and beliefs in the last few chapters of this novel exemplify the need for historical fiction in order to better understand history. It is easy, from an outsider’s perspective, to see how people who opposed the Civil Rights Movement or supported the institution of slavery were wrong. It is less easy to determine whether the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were right or wrong. For the sake of winning the war, they were considered right, but for the sake of humanity they were wrong. Works Cited Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie Oxford English Dictionary Beginning Theory by Peter Barry
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