THE COEXISTENCE : FROM STYLE TO STRUCTURE AND MEANING. By Dr. Olimpia Iacob

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The present paper deals with The Coexistence, the latest novel of Stephen Gill, in terms of (a) style, on the one hand, and (b) structure and meaning, on the other.
Generally, approaching a writer’s style is not at all an easy job. The difficulty comes from the fact that writing, as G.W.Turner puts it, “is a special, careful, elaborated, shuffled, pruned and tidied form of language, very different from the everyday spontaneous, precarious adventures of speech which make up, and have made up, most of the world’s linguistic activity and are in that sense, ‘normal language’.” (1) Before making judgments regarding Stephen Gill’s style in The Coexistence, I find it necessary to mention here Turner again because he thinks that (style) “evaluation presupposes description”, and “a style is described according to criteria which give us a general basis for particular statements.”(2). Turner’s criteria are: “clarity, economy, precision, persuasiveness (or interest) and the provision of a loose enough basic construction to allow qualifications and modifications if necessary…”(3). Mick Short, another scholar interested in ‘exploring the language of poems, plays and prose’ focuses on ‘language features that need to be examined in order to elucidate text styles’. The aspects of language patterning in prose on which Mick Short concentrates are: “
1. patterns of lexis (vocabulary)
2. patterns of grammatical organization; and
3. patterns of textual organization (how the units of textual organization, from sentences to paragraphs and beyond, are arranged).” (4)
The checksheet, provided by Mick Short (1996:350-352) and derived from the checklist in Leech and Short (1981: 75-82), has been used in this paper in order to evaluate the style in The Coexistence. (5). It is based on three major areas (lexis, grammar, and textual cohesion and coherence) that provide essential information about the language of a literary text. Once applied to a piece of writing the checksheet offers linguistic facts necessary for the linguistic description. Unlike linguistics, which describes language and shows how it works, stylistics, as part of linguistics, “concentrates on variation in the use of language(…), with special attention to the most conscious and complex uses of language in literature” (6) As Mick Short states, “ stylisticians try to discover not just what a text means, but also how it comes to mean what it does. (7) The same scholar shows that the person interested in the analysis of literature is a linguist, a stylist, and also a critic who is expected to “interpret, that is, to explicate literary pieces of writing and judge them.
Applied to a couple of passages taken from The Coexistence the checksheet has provided the following findings:
A. LEXIS
General
(a) The vocabulary is sometimes simple, sometimes complex, sometimes descriptive, sometimes evaluative, sometimes general, sometimes
specific;
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(b) The writer makes greatest use of denotative meanings;
(c) Idioms are rarely used;
(d) The vocabulary is quite usual;
(e) The words fall into groups which form noticeable semantic fields;
In examining ‘the closed class words, that is, “grammatical words” such as pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, determiners, auxiliaries, interjections, the situation is as follows:
- interjections are rarely used;
- conjuctions are often omitted;
- determiners are normally used;
- prepositions are normally used;
- pronouns are normally used;
- auxiliaries are rarely used;
Specific
(a) NOUNS.
- When they are abstract, they refer to events, perceptions, processes, moral qualities, social qualities;
- There are both proper names and collective names;
(b) ADJECTIVES
- They occur quite frequently;
- They embody a large variety of attributes such as: physical, emotion al, visual, colour, etc.
( c) VERBS
- There are linking, transitive and intransitive verbs;
- There are stative verbs (referring to states) and dynamic verbs (referring to actions, events)
- Whether stative or dynamic the verbs refer to physical movement, psychological states or activities, perceptions,
- There are finite(complete-sense) verbs as well as participles (present and also past);
-
(d) ADVERBS.
- They occur frequently;
- They describe manner, place, time, direction, frequency, degree;
B. GRAMMAR
General
There are general types of grammatical construction such as:
. Specific
(a) SENTENCES. They are statements, questions, commands They are quite diverse: simple, compound and complex. The long sentences are the result of the embedding of clauses inside one another,
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(b) coordination of clauses, long phrases acting as single clause elements (like subject or object)
(c) CLAUSES. There are all types of clauses (including the clause with ‘ dummy subjects—based on the use of ‘there’, ‘it’.
(c) PHRASES
(i) NOUN PHRASES. They are sometimes simple, sometimes complex [thanks to pre-modifiers (adjectives, noun-modifiers, etc.) or post-modification (prepositional phrases, relative clauses, complement clauses, etc.)]
(ii) VERBE PHRASES. The simple past tense is most present in the texts.
(iii) OTHER PHRASES. There are also other phrases such as: prepositional, adverbial, adjectival.
C. Cohesion and coherence
(a) COHESION
(I) The texts are based on both logical or other links between sentences and rely on implicit connections such as juxtaposition, sequence, etc.
(II) There is a lot of cross-reference by means of pronouns and ellipsis as well as the ‘elegant variation’ based on “the use of different ways of describing the same thing / person (so as to avoid repetition or to give you an idea of whose view of the thing/person you are getting” ( op cit p 352)
(III) Meaning connections are made both by means of lexical repetition and by frequent use of words from the same semantic field
(IV) There are, indeed, factors of interest in the ‘interaction’ between the author / narrator and the reader.
(b) COHERENCE
(i) All the portions of the texts are so overly cohesive that the reader does not have to supply coherence by inference work.
Style is also discussed in terms of figures of speech. In this case, the style can be:
(b) simple ( unadorned, that is, without figures of speech /style)
(c) complex (adorned, that is, with figures of speech/ style such as : epithets, similes, metaphors, symbols, repetitions.
In dealing with style one also takes into consideration
(a) the language and
(b) (b) the grammar used by the author.
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English uses two fundamental sentence structures:
(a) loose and
(b) periodic
English also makes use of three styles of writing:
(a) formal ( long periodic sentences)
(b) informal ( based on more loose sentences and fewer polysyllabic words
(c) colloquial ( contractions, common idiomatic expressions, cliches, slang, incomplete or fragmented sentences)

The adjectives that characterize best the style in The COEXISTENCE are: “lucid”, “explicit”, “precise”, “concise”. The sentences are sometimes short, sometimes long but taken as a whole they are balanced.
The COEXISTENCE is based on Stephen Gill’s volume, Immigrant, which is “ a story of the hopes and fears and the struggle of a newcomer from India settling in Canada. It also gives an insight into the views immigrants hold of white people and vice versa.” (8) The Coexistence is set in Canada and India, two countries to which Raghu Nath belongs.
The point of view used by the narrator is the third-person narrative which, unlike the first person narrative, is ‘objective’, ‘exterior’ and ‘omniscient’. Structurally, the novel consists of 18 chapters which are linked by its main character, Reghu Nath, whose story gradually introduces few more characters. As a sensible and sensitive immigrant in Canada, Reghu Nath shares his rich experience which is based on comparisons between India, Reghu’s country of birth, and Canada, the country where he has chosen to settle down. Reghu is a fine and objective observer, an ardent lover of justice and people. The radiography of Rhegu’s mind and soul takes the following shape:
*LOVE
--Non-violence is love and love has no boundaries, no colour and no age. Love is deathless. (…). Love is the thread that unites humans and non-humans at every level. (…) Love is the language of God and God is peace.”( p 279)
--Mistrust is the outcome of international anarchy. Disarmament may help to achieve much stronger peace. The first step is to create an atmosphere of mutual trust. We need parliament of nations for that” (p 278)
--There are several names for parliament of nations. One is a world authority, another is world government, another is commonwealth of nations, still another is democratization of globe, and another is a world federation or a world order. To me all these terms can be interchangeably. When I say parliament of nations, I mean a democratically elected., secular world government with its head, and powers of the executive , legislative and courts. “ ( p 277)
--Peace is the breath of the soul and soul is what matters. Peace is a quiescent rock even in the vortex which feeds suspicion and hostility. Peace means life is sacred and it should be touched with respect. Mind is the bastion where peace is born. Peace of every individual is the result of mutual cooperation. (p. 277)
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*MUTUALISM AND SYMBIOSIS
--The concept of a world government is based on the same principle of symbiosis and mutualism. By entering into partnership of nations, everyone will receive benefits.
--“In the landscape of multiculturalism, citizens of the world have to learn to live with the followers of other faiths and if there are conflicts, learn to settle them in democratic ways. Democracy is tolerance and tolerance leads to security and security brings prosperity. ..(p 220)
--Just as there is always the need for parental authority above children, the global village needs an authority in the form of a democratically elected parliament of nations for the limited world resources to be distributed intelligently for everyone.” (p 220)
--Love has power. Christ was resurrected on the third day, winning victory over death. It was his love for humanity that won the victory. It was his love that healed the blind, lepers, sick and others. The base of parliament of nations would be to live and let live that is also love.” (p 220)
--Democracy is the most suitable form of government for any nation that is multicultural like Canada and India. (…) Multiculturalism is sharing and widening of the knowledge to the boundaries of other cultures and faiths. “ (p 219)
--I believe that the word impossible should not appear in any dictionary because nothing is impossible for ever. There is nothing that a person is incapable of accomplishing, provided there is a strong will. The best is not to accept limitations to realize dreams.” (pp 217-8)
--(T)he global village needs a democratically elected government to declare wars and preparations for wars illegal for the good of every human. More than one trillion US dollars which are offered to the god of the bloodshed should be invested to elevate the quality of life.” (p 216)
--It is the law of nature to receive by giving. If a person gives love, the return is love. It works also in the case of hatred and violence. (…) (L)oneliness is an epidemic which is on the increase among most citizens of civilized nations.” (p 211)
--Human cannot live alone: social interaction is not only a need, but also a craving. It is this craving that will solidify the mansion of the global village with the cement of diversity.” ( p 210)
--Loneliness may be the result of the lack of adjustment in the multicultural set up of today. In other words, loneliness is caused by the inability to communicate meaningfully. (p 209)
--Alternative to nuclear madness is the development of the ability to live and let others live. There are bound to be differences between nations, communities, languages, colors, religions and so on. These differences exist even within the same family.” (pp 198-9)
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--Man has invented language for communication, for understanding his fellow beings, but he is still far from this cherished goal. Rather, languages are causing confusion in this already confused world. (…) In no way is man superior to even the tiniest of the creatures such as mosquitoes. (p186)

--Peace is the abolition of the use of violence in relations among the countries. (p 181)
--Multiculturalism of Canada and India provide the blueprint of unity in diversity for the global village.
--Parliament of nations will be using the basic principles of government to define the duties and rights of individual nations. (p 179)
--Wars are futile because they solve nothing (p154)
--Basically all humans think alike. People are people everywhere(..) They all harbour dreams, fears and expect love. (p145)
--Humans should follow the way of their Creator. Every organ of the body needs peace to function properly. This is the way to longevity and disease-free living. (…) (F)eelings of prejudice and racism are the negative thoughts which cause anxiety and anxiety causes stress. (p 136)
--Multiculturalism holds the passport to the land of coexistence. (p 135)
--I believe that multiculturalism is the way of the future. (p 135)
--It is God’s plan to coexist. He let thorns and shrubs grow in his garden of multicolored beauty. (p 135)
--(E)very country had its own imperfections. No country was a paradise. (p 113)
--(S)eparation was not the real solution. If every ethnic, linguistic and cultural group in the world got its own separate state, then there would not be any limit to divisions. These divisions would endanger the peace, security and welfare of everybody. Therefore, the solution is unity in diversity. Canada provided a blueprint. (p111)
--Ethnic and cultural differences were everywhere and increasingly becoming more visible than they had been before. Also there are more visible manifestations of these differences, resulting in deadly conflicts. Majorities, and in some cases, even minorities, with the help of the state or foreign power have committed atrocities, rapes and tortures. (p 110)
--(D)iversity is multiculturalism that allows ethnic groups to celebrate their cultures to keep their identities. The main point is to promote unity in diversity. This is a way to secularize the government. India is also a multicultural society. (p 77)
--Diversity is to acknowledge differences of ethnic groups and work together for creativity and innovations. Diversity is the backbone of any business that may be working in a
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multicultural world of today. (…) The world has become a village of people of diverse taste. (p 77)

--(D)iversity or coexistence means recognition of every one’s right to survive. It also recognizes interdependence among communities and nations. It is more than tolerance. It incorporates equality, diversity and interdependence to prosper, having mutual trust and respect. These are the fundamentals of coexistence. I believe that diversity is to learn to live together, accepting differences. (p79)
--Loneliness is akin to death. Every individual needs company and all humans are interdependent. Life means coexistence. (p 64)
--Modern civilization (..) had robbed man’s natural impulses.
--Forgiveness is the outcome of love, and so is non-violence. (p 249)
--Unconditional love for all, including enemies, is the base of Christianity. (p 249)
--Christianity is divided into Catholics and Protestants. (…) They all believe in limitless forgiveness, tolerance and compassion.” ( p 249)
--“ It is the job of churches, temples, mosques and the other religious places as well as of social organizations (…) to allow religious and ethnic communities to know each other.” ( p 251)
--Division is the way to destruction. “ (p 222)
--“ (P)rejudice in whatever form must be discouraged.
--No one can eliminate prejudices. The best is to recognize them. (p 234)
--(M)multiculturalism was going to stay , grow and solidify the global village. (p 235)
--War is not caused by any instinct. It is caused by either fear or greed. (p 235)
--It is a myth to say that humans are violent by nature. (p 234)
--The problems that the world is facing include prejudices about language, religion, colour, customs, richness, poverty, gender and the list goes on. ( p. 233)
--Christianity promotes multiculturalism. Though Jesus was born as a Jew and most of his disciples were Jews, his teachings are for all. People from different religions and ethnic backgrounds have and are still accepting him. Christianity itself is multicultural. It is for all. Christianity does not differentiate on the basis of ethnicity or practices of any creed. (p 233)
--Christianity does not promote homogeneity of culture. This was not God’s plan when he destroyed the world with the flood. He advised Noah to preserve every species to maintain diversity.”(p 232)
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--“Another example is the tower of Babylon. When people were busy building the tower of Babylon, God divided them along the lines of different languages. For the oneness of righteous people God advises to be united in unconditional love, caring for one another. (p 232)
CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION
--“I think North America has an ideal system of education, provided professors treat every student fairly and objectively. (…) (S)tudents in North America remain busy with their studies all year round. They write term papers and actively participate in class discussions to obtain good grades.”( p 202). “I think students in India have a wide knowledge in humanities.” (p 202)
--India …is divided linguistically, religiously and racially. We have so many religions, languages and castes; each represents a different culture…” A country has usually one culture, which is divided into regional differences.
--India is endowed with diversity in a natural way.
--He wished to stay in the mainstream of the values of the country in which he had been born and where he had left a part of himself. (p 231)
--Carrying this burden of guilt and pain, he went searching for work. No matter what company he was in, he felt alone, at a distance. (p 231)
--His eyes became tearful. He longed to shed tears and cry. He cursed himself for lack of freedom to do what he liked whenever he wanted. The walls--the silence of the atmosphere--oppressed him. He wished someone, really close, to share his loneliness.” (p226)
--Reghu wanted to meet white Canadians to get more information about the country and its culture. (…) He was curious to know their accent, customs and the way of thinking. He had read sufficiently about them. It was the time to know them closely. (p 132)
--Hindu scriptures have never portrayed nature as hostile forces. They urge to preserve nature. Humans have been forbidden to exploit nature. Rather humans have been advised to live in harmony with nature, including plants and trees, water and mountains because of the divinity that manifests everywhere. The sages of India maintained that the material world is the reflection of the divine power. It is said that Bhavatgita advises not to wrestle with the objects of nature. If they become hostile, tolerate them. Indian mythology is against taking the spirit out of trees and plants. You know it well that in Hindu mythology, earth is mother and sacred, to be protected. Harmony with nature is a basic concept of the Hindu way of thinking. Mountains always have been considered as the abodes of gods. In any case, snow is needed to maintain ecological balance. The best way is to learn to coexist with nature.( p123)
--Men and women are the same basically all over the world. (…) The world is changing quickly everywhere. Women are seeking liberation, even in India. (…) Indian women are also on the way for emancipation after suffering in ignorance for centuries. (p 116)
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--He longed to enjoy chapattis when he had flu or even with liquor. Indian unleavened flat bread, also called roti, is made with wheat flour. It is cooked on a tava, a sort of flat plate. It is said these breads are rich in fibre. He had seen his mother making them with her hands that needed practice and strength. She used to make large one, but not as large as the ones he had eaten in Pakistani families. They were prepared differently in different provinces of India. When chapattis are fried with or without cooked potatoes and butter or any oily stuff, they are called paranthas. Reghu liked them when they were filled with green chillies, which he liked to eat with strong hot tea. (p108)
--India is a land of deep mysterious and silent spirituality that has been intriguing thirsty souls from different nooks of the globe. Its caves are filled with wisdom and the secret of truth. In this land of fascination, they find colorful customs and amazing rituals with spectacular diversity in the art of living. You will see in this country historical sites and misty mountains existing side by side with the scientific advancements of today. Once is a while the alp of intolerance erupts with molten rocks to cause infamous massacres. (p 58)
--India has given many other concepts to the world, including yoga and meditation. It is the West who is the main beneficiary. Guru comes from India to the West to amass wealth by teaching the techniques of yoga and meditation for relaxation. But the East is forgetting them. (p 57)
--India is a land of deep contrasts. Multiethnic, lingual and religious India has a fairly long and interesting history. The country can boast to have some of the richest persons of the world, and also be ashamed to have the poorest on earth. India had the most luxurious buildings that one can think of, and also the most luxurious buildings that one can think of, and also the most apathetic dwellings like that of the untouchables. A nation of coontroversies that is also steeped in superstitions. India has produced respectable scientists and scholars, and at the same time it has allowed a majority of the population to remain illiterate. It is difficult to understand every region of India because of the multiplicity of cultures and also because some regions are difficult to reach for various reasons. To draw a realistic picture of India is challenging even for an Indian. So are the snake charmers. India has produced Nobel Laureates, and superstitious persons. (p 51)
Like Rudyard Kipling in his remarkable poem “IF”, Stephen Gill in his novel The Coexistence teaches a lesson, and this lesson is “the love of God”, which, says Stephen Gill, “is in abundance in every heart but is suppressed because of fear and tensions” (p 220). ‘Love” “has power’, and ‘Christ was resurrected on the third day, winning victory over death” thanks to “his love for humanity”. “It was his love for humanity that won the victory. It was his love that healed the blind, lepers, sick and others.” (idem). The key word in Stephen Gill’s novel is “DEMOCRACY”:
“ In the landscape of multiculturalism, citizens of the world have to learn to live with the followers of other faiths and if there are conflicts, learn to settle them in democratic ways. Democracy is tolerance and tolerance leads to security and security brings prosperity.” (p 220)
The Coexistence can be ranked among novels such as: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Way of All Flesh by Samule Butler, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. They all belong to the category of
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novel known under the name of ‘thesis novel’. According to The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory ‘thesis novel’ is defined as follows:
“One which treats of a social, political or religious problem with a didactic and, perhaps, radical purpose. It certainly sets out to call people’s attention to the shortcomings of a society.” (10)
Deeply and equally involved in ‘social’, ‘political’, ‘religious’ issues, writer Stephen Gill seems to be a genuine Messiah who has always lived among his fellow-creatures, loved them, suffered for them and because of them, cared about them, and who goes on ‘preaching’ that GOD is LOVE, MAN is God’s creation, and LIFE is a divine gift MAN receives.
I find it appropriate to end up this essay with an excerpt selected from The Coexistence that is meant to clearly explain what ‘LIVE and LET LIVE’ means in Stephen Gill’s opinion. Here is as it runs:
“ Because diversity is the will of God, its acknowledgement brings peace, and God is peace, and peace brings health, and health brings prosperity. The acknowledgment of this truth sets human free from ignorance which is the warehouse of prejudices. The problems that the world is facing include prejudice about language, religion, color, customs, richness, poverty, gender and the list goes on. Let them coexist as long as they do not sip the wine of hatred and bloodshed. India can guide the global village in the path of coexistence because India is endowed with diversity in a natural way. Moreover, this school of thought was originated in India. There was a time when India used to send missionaries abroad to spread the gospel of coexistence. Now India sends business people in the guise of religion to teach the technique of yoga and meditation.” (p 234)
Works Cited
Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms And Literary Theory. Fourth Edition.1999. p 913
Gill, Stephen. The Coexistence. Orientalia, New Delhi, 2011
-----------------. Immigrant. Vesta Publications Ltd, Canada, 1982
Short, Mick. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1996, p334
---------------. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and prose. Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1996. p 6
Turner, G.W. Stylistics. Penguin Books Ltd. (GB), 1973.p.8.
---------------. Stylistics. Penguin Books Ltd. (GB), 1973. p 233.
---------------. , p.233.
.--------------. Stylistics. Penguin Books Ltd. (GB), 1973, p.7

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