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Valentine Costin
Valentine Costin

The Adventures of Upali and Jinna on Madol Duwa: A Summary and Analysis of the Novel


Madol Duwa: A Classic Sri Lankan Novel by Martin Wickramasinghe




Have you ever dreamed of running away from your troubles and living on an island? If so, you might enjoy reading Madol Duwa, a classic Sri Lankan novel by Martin Wickramasinghe. Madol Duwa tells the story of two boys who escape from their unhappy homes and find adventure on an uninhabited island. The novel has been read, re-read, and loved by generations of Sri Lankans in its original Sinhala as well as in other translations. During the half-century since it was published in 1947, over a million copies have been printed . In this article, we will explore what makes Madol Duwa such a timeless and universal story that appeals to readers of all ages and cultures.




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The Plot of Madol Duwa




The novel is set in the late 19th century, during the British colonial rule of Sri Lanka. The protagonist is Upali Giniwella, a rebellious and mischievous boy who lives with his wealthy father, stepmother, and half-brother in a village near Galle. Upali's mother died when he was young, and his father is strict and distant. Upali feels neglected and misunderstood by his family and teachers, and often gets into trouble for his pranks and disobedience. His only friend is Jinna, a servant boy who works for his father.


One day, Upali and Jinna decide to run away from home after being punished for stealing coconuts. They take a boat and sail along the coast, hoping to find a place where they can live freely. They encounter various dangers and challenges along the way, such as storms, pirates, crocodiles, and snakes. They also meet different people, such as fishermen, monks, and villagers, who help them or hinder them. Eventually, they discover an island called Madol Duwa, which means "island of mangroves" in Sinhala. The island is uninhabited and covered with lush vegetation and wildlife. Upali and Jinna decide to make it their home and name themselves the kings of Madol Duwa.


On the island, Upali and Jinna experience many adventures and learn to survive on their own. They build a hut, plant crops, hunt animals, fish in the lagoon, and explore the island. They also encounter some mysteries and secrets, such as a hidden cave, a buried treasure, and a mysterious visitor. They enjoy their freedom and independence, but they also face some difficulties and dangers, such as illness, injury, loneliness, and enemies. They also grow up and mature, learning about themselves and the world around them. They realize that life is not always easy or fun, but also full of responsibility and sacrifice. They also discover that they cannot escape from their past or their destiny, and that they have to face the consequences of their actions.


The Themes of Madol Duwa




Freedom and Independence




One of the main themes of Madol Duwa is freedom and independence. The novel explores this theme through the characters of Upali and Jinna, who seek to escape from their oppressive families and society, and find their own way of life on the island. The novel shows how freedom and independence can be liberating and empowering, but also challenging and risky. Upali and Jinna enjoy being free from rules, restrictions, expectations, and judgments on the island. They make their own decisions, follow their own interests, express their own personalities, and pursue their own dreams. They also learn new skills, gain new knowledge, develop new talents, and discover new possibilities on the island. However, freedom and independence also come with costs and responsibilities. Upali and Jinna have to face many hardships, dangers, conflicts, and dilemmas on the island. They have to work hard, take care of themselves, protect themselves from enemies, and deal with their own problems. They also have to accept the consequences of their choices, and sometimes compromise or sacrifice their freedom for the sake of others.


Friendship and Loyalty




Another theme of Madol Duwa is friendship and loyalty. The novel portrays this theme through the relationship between Upali and Jinna, who are more than friends; they are like brothers. The novel shows how friendship and loyalty can be supportive and comforting, but also demanding and challenging. Upali and Jinna support each other through thick and thin on the island. They share their joys and sorrows, their hopes and fears, their secrets and dreams. They help each other in times of need, comfort each other in times of pain, and encourage each other in times of doubt. They also have fun together, laugh together, play together, and learn together. However, friendship and loyalty also require trust, respect, honesty, and understanding. Upali and Jinna sometimes disagree, argue, or fight with each other on the island. They have different opinions, preferences, and personalities. They also make mistakes, hurt each other's feelings, or betray each other's trust. They have to learn to communicate, listen, apologize, forgive, and appreciate each other.


Nature and Culture




A third theme of Madol Duwa is nature and culture. ```html between the natural beauty and simplicity of Madol Duwa and the artificiality and complexity of the mainland. The novel shows how nature and culture can be both complementary and contradictory, and how Upali and Jinna learn to appreciate both aspects. On the one hand, nature and culture can enrich each other. Upali and Jinna enjoy the natural beauty and bounty of Madol Duwa, which provides them with food, shelter, entertainment, and inspiration. They also learn from the culture and wisdom of the people they meet on their journey, such as the fishermen, the monks, and the villagers. They acquire new knowledge, skills, values, and perspectives from them. They also contribute to the culture and development of Madol Duwa by introducing new crops, animals, tools, and techniques to the island. On the other hand, nature and culture can also clash with each other. Upali and Jinna face many threats and challenges from nature on Madol Duwa, such as storms, floods, droughts, pests, diseases, and predators. They also encounter many conflicts and problems from culture on the mainland, such as laws, taxes, politics, religion, and education. They sometimes feel alienated or oppressed by the culture and society they belong to. They also realize that they cannot ignore or reject either nature or culture completely, as they are both part of their identity and reality.


The Style of Madol Duwa




Language and Tone




The novel uses simple and colloquial language to convey the story in a realistic and engaging way. The novel is written in Sinhala, but incorporates words and phrases from other languages spoken in Sri Lanka at that time, such as English, Tamil, Portuguese, and Dutch. The novel also uses slang, dialects, idioms, proverbs, and jokes that reflect the characters' backgrounds, personalities, and moods. The novel employs humor, irony, and sarcasm to create a light-hearted tone. The novel makes fun of the absurdities and hypocrisies of the adults' behavior and society's norms. The novel also mocks the pretensions and limitations of the colonial rulers and their agents. The novel balances the humor with seriousness, however, and does not shy away from addressing the hardships, dangers, and tragedies that Upali and Jinna face.


Narrative Structure and Perspective




The novel follows a linear and chronological narrative structure that allows the reader to follow the development of Upali and Jinna. The novel is divided into 20 chapters, each focusing on a different event or episode in their lives. The novel covers a span of about two years, from Upali's departure from his home village to his return to Madol Duwa after his father's death. The novel uses a first-person perspective that gives insight into Upali's thoughts and feelings. The novel is presented as a memoir written by Upali when he is an adult, looking back at his childhood adventures. The novel reveals Upali's personality, attitudes, and emotions through his narration. The novel also shows Upali's growth, change, and learning through his narration. The novel sometimes uses flashbacks, foreshadowing, or suspense to create interest and tension.


Imagery and Symbolism




The novel uses vivid imagery to describe the settings and characters. The novel paints a colorful picture of Madol Duwa and its surroundings, using sensory details to appeal to the reader's sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. The novel also portrays the characters' appearance, expression, movement, and gesture with clarity and detail. The novel uses symbolism to convey deeper meanings. The novel uses objects, places, or events that represent something else beyond their literal sense. For example, the island is a symbol of freedom, the boat is a symbol of adventure, the snake is a symbol of danger, the treasure is a symbol of greed, the cave is a symbol of mystery, and so on.


The Reception of Madol Duwa




Critical Reviews




The novel received positive reviews from critics who praised its originality, realism, humor, and social commentary. The novel was hailed as a masterpiece of Sri Lankan literature, and a landmark in the genre of children's literature. The novel was also recognized as a novel that influenced other Sri Lankan writers, especially those who wrote about rural life and childhood experiences. The novel was compared to other classic novels of adventure and coming-of-age, such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, and Robinson Crusoe.


Popular Responses




The novel became a bestseller in Sri Lanka and was translated into several languages, including English and Tamil. The novel also inspired adaptations in film, television, radio, and theater. The most famous adaptation was the 1976 film Madol Duwa (Enchanted Island) directed by Lester James Peries, one of the most acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmakers . The film was faithful to the novel and captured its spirit and charm. The film was also a commercial success and won several awards. The novel also spawned sequels, prequels, and spin-offs by other writers, such as Madol Doova 2, Madol Doova 3, Madol Doova 4, Madol Doova 5, Jinna's Story, and Upali's Story.


Cultural Impact




The novel became a part of Sri Lankan culture and identity. The novel resonated with readers from different backgrounds and generations who related to its themes and characters. The novel also reflected and shaped the values and aspirations of Sri Lankan society. The novel celebrated the beauty and diversity of Sri Lanka's natural and cultural heritage. The novel also challenged the colonial and elitist influences that dominated Sri Lanka's history and politics. The novel promoted a sense of pride and patriotism among Sri Lankans, as well as a sense of curiosity and openness to the world. The novel also inspired many people to visit Madol Duwa, which is a real island located in the Koggala Lagoon near Galle . The island has become a tourist attraction and a conservation site, where visitors can see the remains of Upali and Jinna's hut, boat, and farm.


The Conclusion




In conclusion, Madol Duwa is a classic Sri Lankan novel that deserves to be read by everyone. The novel tells an entertaining and inspiring story of two boys who find freedom, friendship, and adventure on an island. The novel explores various themes such as freedom and independence, friendship and loyalty, nature and culture, among others. The novel uses simple and colloquial language, linear and chronological narrative structure, first-person perspective, vivid imagery, and symbolism to convey the story. The novel received positive reviews from critics, popular responses from readers, and cultural impact on society. The novel is a masterpiece of Sri Lankan literature, a landmark in children's literature, and a timeless and universal story that appeals to readers of all ages and cultures.


Frequently Asked Questions




  • Who is the author of Madol Duwa?



  • The author of Madol Duwa is Martin Wickramasinghe, one of the most renowned Sri Lankan writers. He was born in 1890 in Koggala, near Galle, where Madol Duwa is set. He wrote over 80 books, including novels, short stories, essays, poems, memoirs, biographies, and translations. He died in 1976.



  • What is the genre of Madol Duwa?



  • The genre of Madol Duwa is children's literature. It is a novel that is written for children or young adults, but can also be enjoyed by adults. It is a novel that features children or young adults as the main characters, and deals with their experiences, problems, emotions, and growth. It is also a novel that educates, entertains, inspires, and stimulates the imagination of the readers.



  • What is the setting of Madol Duwa?



```html and social context of Sri Lanka at that time, such as the colonial rule, the caste system, the education system, and the religious diversity. The novel also introduces some aspects of Sri Lankan history and culture, such as the legends of King Dutugemunu and King Parakramabahu, the rituals of Vesak and Perahera, and the art of mask-making and puppetry.


Frequently Asked Questions




  • Who is the author of Madol Duwa?



  • The author of Madol Duwa is Martin Wickramasinghe, one of the most renowned Sri Lankan writers. He was born in 1890 in Koggala, near Galle, where Madol Duwa is set. He wrote over 80 books, including novels, short stories, essays, poems, memoirs, biographies, and translations. He died in 1976.



  • What is the genre of Madol Duwa?



  • The genre of Madol Duwa is children's literature. It is a novel that is written for children or young adults, but can also be enjoyed by adults. It is a novel that features children or young adults as the main characters, and deals with their experiences, problems, emotions, and growth. It is also a novel that educates, entertains, inspires, and stimulates the imagination of the readers.



  • What is the setting of Madol Duwa?



  • The setting of Madol Duwa is Sri Lanka in the late 19th century, during the British colonial rule. The novel depicts the rural life and culture of southern Sri Lanka, especially the village of Galle and the island of Madol Duwa. The novel also portrays the historical and social context of Sri Lanka at that time, such as the colonial rule, the caste system, the education system, and the religious diversity.



  • What are some of the themes of Madol Duwa?



  • Some of the themes of Madol Duwa are freedom and independence, friendship and loyalty, nature and culture, adventure and discovery, growth and maturity, and identity and belonging.



  • How can I get a copy of Madol Duwa in English?



  • You can get a copy of Madol Duwa in English by buying it online or from a bookstore. You can also download it as a PDF file from this link: Madol Duwa PDF. You can also read it online from this link: මඩල් දූව by Martin Wickramasinghe Goodreads.



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