Justice In Anil's Ghost

690 Words3 Pages
Crime fiction not only focuses on the solving of mysteries; it also questions the society it depicts. Both Michael Ondaatje’s 2000 novel ‘Anil’s Ghost’ and the ongoing procedural drama ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ (commonly known as ‘SVU’) present thought-provoking examinations of their respective contexts. ‘Anil’s Ghost’ is set in Sri Lanka, following the life of a forensic pathologist named Anil Tissera, who must investigate a politically motivated murder and bring about justice for victims in a time of war. ‘SVU’ follows the lives of the detectives of a Special Victims Unit in New York City, wrestling with unique and often disturbing sexually based homicides. These two texts portray the solving of crimes, while simultaneously successfully…show more content…
The plots in the series bear resemblance to actual crimes. ‘SVU’ shapes the public’s perception of homicides and the ways in which they affect society. The show makes clever use of red herrings, creating a disjointed plot in order to raise political questions. ‘SVU’ employs a formulaic structure and pattern to its episodes. At the beginning, a death is discovered, then the detectives begin to collect evidence and contact witnesses. Towards the end, a perpetrator is found and a verdict is passed. This familiar structure grounds the viewer and prepares them to reflect further on the issues raised in each episode.

‘Anil’s Ghost’ provides informed political reflections on Sri Lanka’s rocky past through the eyes of well-informed characters. The novel is a hybrid genre, combining crime fiction with a political, historical and social focus. Sri Lanka’s turbulent history is portrayed in the novel’s obvious preoccupation with political turmoil. Ondaatje ironically juxtaposes the translation of the name Sri Lanka, ‘serendipity’, with the portrayal of the crime-ridden society in the novel. Ondaatje forces the reader to acknowledge the realities of Sri Lanka’s past, accurately reflecting and commenting on the context he
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These crimes are often against women, reflecting the harsh reality of the dangers of large cities like New York. The portrayal of gender in ‘SVU’ subverts the patriarchy, particularly in the earlier episodes aired in the 1990s. The female lead, Olivia Benson, is a woman shaped by her experiences surrounding assault perpetrated by men. Throughout the series, the more brutal the stories get, the stronger she becomes. This is a comment on the perceived faults of New York’s society and its gender
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