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Marshall’s, Munif’s, Ondaatje’s Writing Techniques Essay


It is necessary to mention that many authors utilize various techniques to make their works much more interesting or draw attention to issues that were prominent at their time. Situations that can be perceived as humorous or contradictory should be noted because the writers may utilize them to shape a particular topic with the use of such methods as commentaries and others. Moreover, it would be beneficial to analyze several works that include such approaches.


Munif discusses crucial issues in his work and devotes enormous attention to dialogues that draw attention to vital topics. Dr. Subhi al-Mahmilji is a character that is especially worth noting because most of his actions are evil, and he tries to manipulate people that surround him. He is an absolute opposite of Mufaddi Al Jeddan, who protects the interests of others and is not focused on personal benefits. The spiritual healer is viewed as a significant threat by the doctor because he provides health-related services without asking for any pay. He realizes that he has to deal with this competitor, and needs to destroy his spirit. Moreover, Subhi tries to gain the respect of the people and appears friendly. Such an approach has helped him to gain an outstanding reputation.

He betrays his people and cooperates with invaders, but still manages to protect his image. Subhi tries to ensure that no one suspects his wrongdoings. He suggests his colleagues tell a story about how he tried to save Mufaddi even when it was not true at all (Munif 579). The author raises the topics related to power and control, and the fact that many people are capable of taking advantage of their positions is worrying. Such actions may contradict their words but they are still respected because of their influence, and it leads to severe complications in some situations. Munif emphasizes the tone of the voice and personal qualities of the character to ensure that the reader has a better understanding of his motives and reasoning behind his actions. The theme is not central, but it supports the idea that many people try to appear differently in front of the public.

Marshall utilizes several techniques to make her work interesting. Lyle Hutson is an especially interesting character. He has gained an outstanding education, and he could use it to promote equality and fair treatment, but he decided to focus on personal profits. Hutson lived on both sides but preferred to become an exploiter. He is a part of the black elite that thinks that these people are ignorant and would not be capable of doing anything if they are not oppressed because of their lack of motivation (Marshall 56). His confrontation with Harriet is especially interesting. She became extremely repulsive when he touched her hand because of the status that people of color had in the region. However, it can be seen that a particular contradiction is present because he was a respected young man in society, yet her thoughts were dominated by racism, and she was thinking about stereotypes.

She felt guilty for the oppression these people have to deal with, and she could not handle it. Also, the way he dressed disgusts her, and she is especially worried about the way he acts. She thinks that his attitude towards people that surround him in unacceptable and does not even realize that she does the same quite often. Moreover, she suggests that she should be viewed as superior and does not accept behavior that differs from her beliefs. The author highlights the qualities of these people and to explain why their ideas are not reasonable. Actions of the characters and their inner thoughts are described in great detail to ensure that the reader may analyze them and identify particular patterns. The topic is not well-defined in this situation, and it is possible to state that several issues are connected with others. This subject matter is relatively minor in this novel, but it is related to the overall theme of the work. Furthermore, the situation becomes complicated, and a focus on speeches is crucial.

Francis de Saram in Ondaatje’s work is interesting because the author utilizes the character’s alcoholism to develop comedic situations. The writer tries to mock him from the very start. Understandably, it is a severe condition that needs to be treated, but Francis did not care about his health or others at all. Also, it can be seen that he was an unpleasant person in some situations, and the fact that he remained the central character’s closest friends for many years is particularly funny. It helps to establish a connection with a reader because nearly everyone knows people like this. One of the quotes is intriguing, and it is stated that “he lost all his teeth young – something he could never remember doing” (Ondaatje 35).

In other words, it is suggested that he was so drunk most of the time that he suffered from issues with memory. Somber situations are turned into humorous because of his behavior. For instance, it is noted that he was in love with one woman and started scandals at her wedding. However, it is mentioned that he has a wife in the next sentence, and it adds to the comedic value. Moreover, it is also pointed out that he wanted to drown himself in the lake, but did not succeed because it was not deep at all (Ondaatje 35). A person taking his or her life should not be funny, but the author executed it rather well, and such actions were not justified just like every other thing that Francis does.

Also, it is possible to state that he is too enthusiastic most of the time, and his actions are extremely unreasonable. His alcoholism was so severe that many people saw him dancing alone, and did not see it as something problematic. However, he attracted people to himself, and his company could be quite enjoyable. The author draws attention to these topics to highlight the dangers of alcoholism while suggesting that beverages can make people happy if taken in moderate amounts. Narrative commentaries play a vital role in this case. It is a primary technique utilized in this work because it was written as a particular form of a memoir. Speeches are rare in this piece, and Ondaatje prioritizes other aspects to keep readers entertained. The writer does not define subject matter clearly but gives several hints that should not be overlooked. Dipsomania is one of the core themes in this work, and it sounds real because he shared a lot of stories from his personal experience.


In conclusion, there is a particular similarity between these works. It is evident that the first two pieces were rather serious, but occasional humor was also present. The last one is an outstanding example of an absurd narrative. However, it can be seen that all these authors wanted to draw attention to particular topics that they viewed as the most important, and they succeeded because these works are widely known and are frequently discussed. Overall, it is paramount to note that contradictory or humorous storylines can be utilized to expand a novel and explore subject matters that vary from the central theme.

Works Cited

Marshall, Paule. The Chosen Place, the Timeless People. St. Louis, MO: Turtleback Books, 1992. Print.

Munif, Abdelraham. Cities of Salt. New York, NY: Random House, 1987. Print.

Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family. 1983. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009. Print.

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"Marshall's, Munif's, Ondaatje's Writing Techniques." IvyPanda, 24 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/marshalls-munifs-ondaatjes-writing-techniques/.

1. IvyPanda. "Marshall's, Munif's, Ondaatje's Writing Techniques." August 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/marshalls-munifs-ondaatjes-writing-techniques/.


IvyPanda. "Marshall's, Munif's, Ondaatje's Writing Techniques." August 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/marshalls-munifs-ondaatjes-writing-techniques/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Marshall's, Munif's, Ondaatje's Writing Techniques." August 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/marshalls-munifs-ondaatjes-writing-techniques/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Marshall's, Munif's, Ondaatje's Writing Techniques'. 24 August.

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