In The Skin Of A Lion

4830 words - 20 pages

Let me now re-emphasise the extreme looseness of the structure of all objects" How Ondaatje makes use of "loosness" in the novel. In "In The Skin Of A Lion" by Michael Ondaatje, "the extreme looseness of the structure of all objects" is carried into the themes, characters and into the nature of the novel itself. Ondaatje uses a "looseness" in the style of the novel - post modernism, and "looseness of structure" in the way that people are able to stretch and expand their boundaries: transform or mask themselves into someone not typical of their social group. This novel was written in the late 1980s and is classified as a post-modern work. Essentially, "In The Skin Of A Lion" has many traits ...view middle of the document...

Rowland Harris
He provides the angle that even though it is hard, some of the working class can climb
their way up the ranks.
Clara Dickens
She is the one who first encourages Patrick to open up to other people.
He was a thief, but a character that seemed to have a positive influence on Patrick. He
brings hope and leaves an impression on Patrick.
2. The Basis order of the main incidents
The story begins with reflections of Patrick as a child. We then see Nicholas Temelcoff
save the nun, Alice Gull, when she falls from the bridge. Patrick meets Clara, falls in
love, but then she leaves him. Patrick then stays with Alice, but goes “searching” for
Clara only to have Ambrose Small pour petrol over him and attempt to set him alight.
He then gives up on Clara and befriends Alice. Alice dies in a misguided attack and
Patrick goes to prison.
When he is released, he plans a terrorist attack on the waterworks, only to pull out at
the last minute. He takes on a carer role for Hana and goes searching for Clara.
3. An example of a metaphor in the book and its significance
“You’re among the dwarfs of enterprise who never get accepted or acknowledged.”
Describing the writing of history, and how the simple working folk will be forgotten by all
bar their own families. They are the dwarfs that are overlooked when history is penned.
4. What you consider to be at least 3 main themes
· The perception of history. Ondaatje raises issues surrounding the way in which
history is recorded. He is of the view that history favours those with power and
leaves out the simple folk who toiled day in, day out, to achieve the feats that
others will be credited with.
· The material nature of life. Ondaatje has a shot at the way in which many people
feel they will be remembered due to their physical possessions. Harris is one, as
he buys herringbone tiles for the waterworks, just so it will be remembered.
Revision Questions – Craville Studies Page 2 of 4
· The value of life. Throughout the text, numerous lives are lost in construction and
by other means. However, when quizzed by Patrick about the number of lives
lost during construction, Harris replies “there was no record kept.”
5. What you think is the essence of the dominant reading.
I believe the dominant reading is a Marxist one. Ondaatje’s novel has been valued as a
Marxist text for a long time. The way in which he uses poetic language to describe the
workers gives them a persona that is gentler than the way ‘official’ history remembers
Nicholas Temelcoff, Patrick and Hazen Lewis are manual labourers who take no part in
the grand schemes of construction, but they are the ones who put their life on the line
every day during construction as they build the histories of others.
Ondaatje empathises with the side of the workers and he feels that the soul of all the
constructions is the men who toiled to make it possible.
Nicholas Temelcoff is a worker on the bridge, a...

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