Post Colonial Literature in English: Canada

Character in the Ondaatje's The English Patient

Lilijana Burcar, University of Ljubljana

A footnote to "Mapping the Woman's Body in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient"

Set in 1944, the novel follows the events in the lives of four main characters, a Canadian nurse Hana, her father's friend Carravaggio, a Sikh sapper and the English patient, a man burnt beyond recognition, who drifts in and out of his own memories and dreams (adapted from >/P>

Through the patient's recollections of the past there ebbs a painful reminiscence of his love affair with Katherine. Whereas this relationship is open to the exploration of the processes involved in the social fabrication of female identity, the traces of which, of course, are amply amassed in the figure of Katherine, the love relationship between Kip and Hana serves as a counterpoint. For theirs is the relationship marked by a convalescence from the shell-shocked state of mind incurred by the horrors of the war. It is a relationship of healing, redemption and transformation, given to the investigations of the far-reaching personal changes wrought into these characters by the impossibility of nationhood or devastating results brought about by imposed national affiliations. It is in this respect that Hana, just another victim of the war, differs from and stands in opposition to Katherine, an epitome of womanhood.

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