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The past in The English Patient and In the skin of a Lion.

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Introduction

ISP Essay: The Past in The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion Laura Schmidt ENG 4A1-02 Mr. Anderson In the two novels In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient both written by Michael Ondaatje, he demonstrates that it is damaging to not only their own life but to the lives of others, to live only in the past or to completely ignore it. It is impossible to continue a normal daily life while living in the past or ignoring the past; events from the past can affect others and it is unfair to keep it from them; and the past will eventually catch up to them. In the two novels In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient both written by Michael Ondaatje, he demonstrates that Patrick, Alice, Ambrose and the Englishman not only ruin their own lives but the lives of their friends and family by living only in the past or by completely ignoring the past. ...read more.

Middle

Events from Alice's and the Englishman's past affect their friends and family and it is unfair for Alice and the Englishman to not share these events with those concerned just because they cannot deal with the events themselves. In In the Skin of a Lion Alice tries to forget the time of her life that she spent with her boyfriend Cato because she is unable to deal with his death. Their daughter Hana develops a tendency to withdraw from people because this is what she has learned from her mother, Alice; and Hana has no other role model or father figure in her life. "There would always be something careful about her. As if she had been badly scalded and so would approach all water tentatively for fear it was boiling" (p. 137). In The English Patient, the Englishman refuses to reveal his name to Caravaggio. In the past the Englishman gave away information about Caravaggio which got Caravaggio in trouble and ruined Caravaggio's life.(does not want Caravaggio to know that he is the one responsible for his thumbs being cut off and ruining his life). ...read more.

Conclusion

298). The Englishman finally decided that he needs Hana to kill him because he constantly relives all the problems in his past and he is unable to cope with the stress of daily life anymore. No matter how much either of them tried to avoid it, the problems in their pasts caught up to both Ambrose and the Englilshman sooner or later. Michael Ondaatje demonstrates in his two novels In the Skin of a Lion and The English Patient that it is essential to find a balance between running away from the past and dwelling on it too much, since all of the characters become who they are because of their past experiences. Patrick and the Englishman both display unhealthy behaviour after their girlfriends leave them, which ruins both of their lives; neither of them is able to continue leading a normal life. Alice and the Englishman do not tell relevant information about the past to their friends and family which makes everyone's life worse instead of better. Events from Ambrose and the Englishman's lives eventually catch up to them and bring about severe consequences that destroy their lives. ...read more.

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