the english patient summary & analysis

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The English Patient Summary The English Patient tracks the convocation of four people at an Italian villa - a nurse, a Sikh sapper, a thief, and a badly burned Englishman - who come to forge an unlikely family, and together discover the secrets of their respective pasts, and the emotional wounds they share. Hana tends to the burned English patient in a room of their Italian villa. The nurse asks him how he was wounded, and he replies that he "fell burning into the desert" from a plane. His plane crashed in the Sand Sea, and nomadic Bedouins saw him stand up naked from the burning plane, on fire. They saved him, but he had no memory of who he is: after the accident, he knew only that he was English. At night the patient rarely sleeps, so the nurse reads to him from whatever book she finds in the library. Books are Hana's only refuge in the Villa San Girolamo, which used to be an army hospital. The villa was abandoned after the Allied victory, but there are still buried mines all over the property. Hana is only 20 years and won't leave the English patient even though he is destined to die and the villa is unsafe. Soon, a new character emerges: a man with bandaged hands named Caravaggio , who Hana used to know. He comes to the villa and begs Hana to leave because she cannot stay with all the bombs still left underground, undefused. Hana refuses to leave the English patient. Caravaggio and Hana go for a walk in the garden. Caravaggio allows her to loosen the bandages and change them, and Hana sees that someone removed both of his thumbs. He tells her a German nurse was called in to do it and would have removed his whole hands if the torturers hadn't suddenly heard the Allies coming. Hana says they must have heard the bombing from outside signaling that the Germans were fleeing the city. Outside it is raining, and Hannah plays the piano in the library. She looks up, in a flash of lightning, and sees that there are two men in the room. Two soldiers - a Sikh and another man, both

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Page 1: The English Patient Summary & Analysis

The English Patient Summary

The English Patient tracks the convocation of four people at an Italian villa - a nurse, a Sikh sapper, a thief, and a badly burned Englishman - who come to forge an unlikely family, and together discover the secrets of their respective pasts, and the emotional wounds they share.

Hana tends to the burned English patient in a room of their Italian villa. The nurse asks him how he was wounded, and he replies that he "fell burning into the desert" from a plane. His plane crashed in the Sand Sea, and nomadic Bedouins saw him stand up naked from the burning plane, on fire. They saved him, but he had no memory of who he is: after the accident, he knew only that he was English. At night the patient rarely sleeps, so the nurse reads to him from whatever book she finds in the library. Books are Hana's only refuge in the Villa San Girolamo, which used to be an army hospital. The villa was abandoned after the Allied victory, but there are still buried mines all over the property.

Hana is only 20 years and won't leave the English patient even though he is destined to die and the villa is unsafe. Soon, a new character emerges: a man with bandaged hands named Caravaggio, who Hana used to know. He comes to the villa and begs Hana to leave because she cannot stay with all the bombs still left underground, undefused. Hana refuses to leave the English patient.

Caravaggio and Hana go for a walk in the garden. Caravaggio allows her to loosen the bandages and change them, and Hana sees that someone removed both of his thumbs. He tells her a German nurse was called in to do it and would have removed his whole hands if the torturers hadn't suddenly heard the Allies coming. Hana says they must have heard the bombing from outside signaling that the Germans were fleeing the city.

Outside it is raining, and Hannah plays the piano in the library. She looks up, in a flash of lightning, and sees that there are two men in the room. Two soldiers - a Sikh and another man, both holding wet guns. She continues to play until she stops, nods towards them. When Caravaggio returns, he finds Hannah and the two soldiers in the kitchen making sandwiches. One of the soldiers, an Indian Sikh, sets up a tent in the garden. This is Kip, who has come to the villa to demine the property. Hana watches him bathe in the garden, and it's clear she's attracted to him.

Kip finds a large mine in a field north of the villa, and defuses the bomb with Hana's help. However, he is shaken by the experience and resents Hana because now he feels like she feels that he owes her; that he is somehow responsible for her. These feelings bring him closer to her, and soon they become lovers.

Hana sits by the English patient in his room, and he tells her that he was part of an expedition in 1930 that went searching for the lost oasis of Zerzura. There he met Katharine Clifton, wife of British aristocrat Geoffrey Clifton. Katharine was a firebrand, full of passion and moxie, and the English patient, despite his resistance to adultery, fell in love with her. Katharine somehow wanted Geoffrey to find out about the affair, but couldn't bear to tell him. Torn, frustrated, Katharine began physically assaulting her lover - leaving bruises on him from blows, cuts from

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flung plates and forks. He made up excuses for his wounds, and yet continued the affair, feeling disassembled by her.

Finally, Katharine told him they could never see each other again. She couldn't risk her husband finding out about them. Eventually, however, he did - long after the affair ended. When Geoffrey Clifton found out, he arranged a murder-suicide on a plane trip and crashed the plane, killing himself, mortally wounding his wife, and yet ironically leaving the English patient injury-free.

Hearing all this, Caravaggio tells Hana that he suspects that the English patient is actually Almasy, a Hungarian spy. Hana says the war is over and says it doesn't matter. Caravaggio injects the patient with more morphine and alcohol and begins to ask him questions. The patient tells Caravaggio that after crashing in the desert, he took Katharine's body to the Cave of Swimmers, where he made love to her dead body, wrapped her in parachute material, and promised to return for her. But he was arrested in El Taj by British Intelligence, and didn't return to the cave for three years. He dug up the buried plane and put Katharine inside it. He put fuel into the tank, and they began to fly in the rotted plane. Soon, however, the oil leaked onto him, the plane began to schism, and it fell from the sky in flames.

Kip flashes back to his youth. He was supposed to be a doctor, but the arrival of war meant he would join the army as an engineer - a bomb defuser. The life expectancy in his unit was only ten weeks. Kip's leader was a man named Lord Suffolk who Kip adored, but Lord Suffolk died while dismantling a large bomb. Kip left the army when he found out that people expected him to replace Lord Suffolk in position and in vision.

Hana and Kip's affair begins to cool - from lust it turns to celibacy, and soon Kip begins to just hold Hana like his mother held him. She clearly is a surrogate for his deceased mother. Caravaggio asks the English patient if he murdered Katharine Clifton. He says Geoffrey Clifton was with British Intelligence - and Caravaggio says British Intelligence knew about Almasy's affair with Katharine even when Geoffrey didn't. When Geoffrey died, British Intelligence went to capture the English patient and finally did at El Taj. Caravaggio tells Almasy that he worked for the British as a thief and that Almasy was considered a dangerous spy - all of British Intelligence had been looking for him. The English patient knows nothing of all of this and can only attest to his love for Katharine.

One day, Hana sees Kip listening to the radio on his headphones in the garden. He hears something awful, runs into the tent, grabs his rifle, and runs into the villa, into the English patient's room. He tells Almasy that the Allies have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, and wants to kill Almasy for he is a representative of the West - the West that would create such destruction. The English patient begs Kip to kill him, but Kip doesn't. Kip leaves the villa.

At the end of the novel, Hana writes a letter to her stepmother and finally explains how her father died. He was burned, and left deserted by his men. She could have saved him, but she was too far away. The novel ends with Kip, who years later is a doctor with a wife and two children. He thinks often of Hana, who used to send him letters. Because he never replied, she finally stopped.

About The English Patient

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The English Patient, published in 1992, is Ondaatje's most famous and critically acclaimed work. The novel won Ondaatje the prestigious Booker McConnell Prize in 1992, making him the only Sri Lankan writer ever to receive the honor. In 1996, Saul Zaentz produced The English Patient as a film, adapted by Anthony Minghella, starring Ralph Fiennes as Almasy and Kristen Scott-Thomas as Katharine Clifton. The film went on to win a slew of Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The English Patient features elements that define much of Ondaatje's earlier work -- his concern for historical accuracy, his experiments with fragmented consciousness and fragmented grammar/sentence structure, and his poetic imagery. Indeed, the opening of the novel is an epigraph from the real-life National Geographic Society, reflecting Ondaatje's penchant for blending documentary with fiction.

The English Patient also takes place during World War II, during which Ondaatje himself was born. The story involves four people converging on a villa and discovering the secrets of their past in an effort to move towards healing in the future. The book, like many of Ondaatje's novels, isn't slavish to plot constructions. Indeed, in several interviews Ondaatje has revealed that the plot didn't really exist until he finished the first draft of the book. He frequently begins with only a generative image. Ondaatje, in an interview to Salon Magazine, even noted, "Almasy wasn't in the story in my head. Kip wasn't in the story. Caravaggio wasn't in the story. It began with this plane crash and it went on from there."

Ondaatje has also noted that one of the more difficult passages of the book involved Kip's departure from the villa, since it seemed slightly "deus ex machina," or willed through force of plot by an omniscient hand. Ondaatje says it is the one part of the book he's often taken to task for, but he did the absolute best he could - and he doesn't know "how to make it work better," since during the revision process he developed Kip's character deeply enough to lay the groundwork for the departure.

The theme of revision comes up again and again in Ondaatje's interviews about his work, especially in regards to The English Patient. When talking to celebrated editor Walter Murch, Ondaatje revealed that it is in revision that the true work is done, sculpting the gems of inspiration that come from the initial generative visions. He keeps working until he is finished, sometimes even taking up to 6 or 7 years to finish a book.

All in all, however, Ondaatje notes that he doesn't believe in closure to his novels. At the end of The English Patient, after taking all his characters from their birth to a given destination, he abandons them, and sees a "new life beginning for Hana and Kip" off the page.

Character List

Almasy / The English Patient

Almasy is the burned English patient who stays at the village with Hana. He was burned when his helicopter crashed - a crash engineered by the man with whose wife he was having an affair. Almasy is a slippery, cryptic character, and is not particularly adept at self-examination. The

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characters seem to live through him, using him to heal their own wounds, as Hana does when she chains herself to him to repair the emotional trauma at the hands of her father. Almasy seems at once regretful of the circumstances that led to his lover's death and his own wounds and mystified by the passion that engulfed him, quite literally, in flames. Having lived a full life, he is still amazed by the consumptive power of love, and advises those around him to seek it out, even though it can be as destructive as it is beautiful.

Hana / The Nurse

Hana is a twenty-year-old nurse for the Allies during World War II. She has spent much of her life treating patients and watching them die, and she seems to have a particular affinity for death. Initially we're not sure why Hana chains herself to the English patient in this lonely villa - we sense that she is emotionally wounded, and that she is withdrawing deeper inside herself. She is ultimately brought out by a sequence of events - all of which bring people to the villa, including Kip and Caravaggio, with whom she becomes involved in a love triangle. Hana falls in love with Kip, but he seems emotionally distanced. Almasy urges her to find that fire within and to kindle it. Ultimately it is revealed that Hana lost her father to an accident where he was burned beyond recognition, but she was too far away to save him. She never forgave herself, and chains herself to this English patient for atonement.

Kip / Kirpal Singh

Kirpal Singh is a "sapper" (soldier) for the British, and works in demining and bomb defusion. He found a mentor in Lord Suffolk, but when Lord Suffolk died in a bomb explosion, he, like Hana, turned inwards. At the villa, Kip falls in love with Hana, but we see that deep down he is uncomfortable with his own race, and has never been comfortable being part of a culture that was subservient to the British.

Caravaggio

Caravaggio is a thief who had his hands amputated when he was caught during the war. He comes to the villa to try to get Hana to leave, since the place is littered with mines. Eventually, however, he falls in love with her (somewhat surprisingly, since he's quite a bit older than her). Ultimately, Caravaggio is her practical guide, where Almasy is her ethereal guide.

Katharine Clifton

Katharine Clifton was the wife of Geoffrey Clifton, and came on one of his expeditions just after they were married. The English patient quickly fell in love with this Oxford-educated firebrand and began an adulterous affair with her that led to both of their demises, when Geoffrey tried to kill them both in a plane crash. Katharine is stubborn and feisty, and is frustrated by Almasy's coldness. She leaves him because he can't bear to be owned by her, but ultimately dies because of the time they spent together. When she dies, Almasy leaves her in a cave, promising to come back, but he is never able to.

Geoffrey Clifton

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Geoffrey Clifton is Katharine's seemingly gregarious husband who is part of Almasy's expedition to chart the Terzura Oasis. As a part of the aristocracy, he is fiercely protective of his wife. When he finds out that she is having an affair with Almasy, he initiates a murder-suicide plane crash that kills him and his wife and burns Almasy beyond recognition. Later, Almasy learns that Geoffrey wasn't just on the expedition for an adventure - he was part of British intelligence.

Lord Suffolk

Lord Suffolk is Kirpal Singh's mentor when he is a sapper in the bomb-defusing unit of the British Army. Kip thinks of him as the best English gentleman he has ever met - and one of the best people he has ever known, almost a surrogate father. When Lord Suffolk is blown up by a 250-kg bomb, Kip is expected to take over for him - to be the new leader of the troop - but Kip finds the shoes too big to fill and escapes.

Madox

Madox is the English patient's best friend in the desert. He ultimately commits suicide because he believes the Church is promoting war instead of withdrawing from it. He seems constantly at odds with his practical and philosophical beliefs.

Major Themes

Healing vs. Denial

One of the more complex themes in The English Patient involves the extraordinary emotional baggage that the main characters bring to the start of the novel. When each character arrives at the Italian villa, it seems they are physically and/or emotionally wounded: Hana lost her father in an accident, Caravaggio lost his thumbs at the hands of the German army, Kip lost his mother and his surrogate father, and the English patient lost both the love of his life and his own body. Each character is given the chance to remember his or her story or speak it aloud, and it is the process of shedding light on the dark corners of their respective souls that seems to bring healing to each one of them. However, denial is a constantly threatening force: Hana refuses to admit the villa is unsafe, Kip has yet to come to terms with his race, and the English patient cannot even acknowledge his own name, because of its entanglement with a separate, politicized identity. The question of how much each character heals and how much each character denies is central to the novel.

Passion vs. Frigidity

In this novel, the union and disunion of characters is often based in their ability to communicate, and their inherent tendencies towards passion or frigidity. Almasy is exceedingly rational and cerebral, and seems completely immune to matters of the heart. Instead, he is concerned with knowledge, with learning in the textbook sense. In Katharine, however, he encounters the opposite - a true firebrand who lives moment to moment wrapped in the flames of passion. Indeed, the two learn from each other: Almasy learns to love, and Katharine begins to become more curious. Their differences, however, are what ultimately undo them: Katharine cannot

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stand Almasy's coldness, his ability to so clinically separate himself from her in public. The irony, of course, is that it is the passion - the raging furious passion - of her husband Geoffrey that ultimately leads to her death, long after the affair with Almasy has ended. As he recounts the story, Almasy is surprised at how all-consuming passion can be - he can no longer remember all the details of his own politicized role in the world, because all he cares to remember is Katharine and the way she changed him. Hana and Kip struggle with similar issues, in that both have built strong defenses against getting to know people, perhaps because of the deaths of their respective parents. Hana reconnects with life by the end, but we're not quite sure whether Kip does - we know only that he escapes and begins anew.

Drive towards Life vs. Drive towards Death

One of the subtler aspects of The English Patient is revealed in the progression of character arcs - in the ability of our protagonists to either reconnect to life and find reasons to live or to embrace death. The English patient, for instance, hangs on to life at the outset, the glimmers of his romance with Katharine so deep in his memory, so fresh on his lips - but by the end of the novel, after recounting the story, he seems ready to die. Indeed, when Kip confronts him with a gun, he asks Kip to shoot him. Hana, meanwhile, begins the novel moving firmly towards death - she is obsessed with it, even, to the point of wanting to stay in the unsafe villa simply to be with her patient. But as she begins to see what waits for her once she gives up her guilt and leaves him, Hana begins to drift back into the world. The patient, after all, is a substitute for her father - a man who died after being burned. Hana cannot forgive herself for having been so far away when her father died, and thus clings to the patient who represents him. As she learns to forgive herself, she loses her attachment to death and renews her engagement in life.

The Desert

The desert is an inextricable aspect of Ondaatje's novel in that it provides so many dualities for imagery, theme, metaphor - the heat of the day, the cold of the night; the seeming serenity and then the suddenness of storms; the quiet pierced by the racket of war. Remembering his experiences in the desert, it seems like Almasy cannot bring up his memories chronologically. Instead, the desert seems to refract memory. And everywhere is the image of fire - the Bedouin boy dancing in the moonlight, the plane falling out of the sky, the man on fire before he becomes the English patient. It seems almost tamable, but his experiences there suggest the reverse: the volatile desert, able to consume and ravage at will, is always in control.

Loneliness vs. Connection

All of the characters come to the villa without attachment. Hana has nothing in the world but her patient, Kip soon loses his sapper partner, Caravaggio is on the run, Almasy has lost his love. It is crucial, then, to notice how alone these characters are - how they could die in the villa without anyone noticing. Upon reaching the villa, they seem happy in their isolation, but soon enough they begin to connect and to see the threads that they have in common. By the end, even Hana has stopped using the library as a refuge, and instead uses it as a place to playfully prank Caravaggio and Kip.

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Surrogate Parents

The characters in The English Patient cling to surrogate parents in order to relive and heal from their childhood traumas. Hana lost her father in a terrible accident in which he was burned to death. She was across the world from him and has never forgiven herself for being so far away, and so she chains herself to the similarly burned English patient to make sure that he is given the chance to end his life in peace. The English patient is clearly a substitute for her father, and the desert a symbol for the physical and emotional vastness between Hana and her dead parent. Kip, meanwhile, has lost his mother, and we see that in Hana's arms, he finds the comfort of a surrogate mother. There is love and lust at first with Hana, but soon it becomes clear that all he needs is the embrace of a woman who he can project as his mother. And just as Almasy made love to Katharine's dead body, now he has Hana revering his dying body, allowing him to die having achieved peace.

Debt

Our protagonists repeatedly seem concerned with what they "owe" others. After Hana stays to help Kip demine the bomb, Kip is resentful that Hana might now expect something from him - that he owes her for her remaining with him under such dangerous circumstances. On the other hand, Hana feels as if she owes everything to the English patient, and cannot survive elsewhere because she is in debt to him. Kip meanwhile believes Almasy owes him a debt for all the lives that were ruined by Indian subservience to the British. Indeed, Kip believes that Almasy, as a representative of the West, owes him something considerable, and nearly takes his life over it.

Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1

Hana, a nurse, is working in the garden when she senses a shift in the weather. She enters the house before it starts to pour and walks into a room where a burned man lies on the bed. He turns towards her. Every four days, Hana washes his black, burned body and pours calamine on his wounds. She tries to feed him a plum. The nurse asks the man how he was burned, and he replies that he "fell burning into the desert" from a plane. His plane crashed in the Sand Sea, and nomadic Bedouins saw him stand up naked from the burning plane, on fire. They saved him, but he has no memory of who he is. He knows only that he is English.

At night the man rarely sleeps, so the nurse reads to him from whatever book she finds in the library. If it is cold, she moves into the bed beside him. He remembers his rescue, the black and white silence in which he healed in the company of the Bedouins. He just lay in a hammock, listening to the sounds of their feet, occasionally letting his mouth open to receive whatever food they gave him.

The nurse has found that books are her only refuge in the Villa San Girolamo. The villa was an army hospital at the end of WW II, housing all the wounded Allies who took over this former bastion of the German Army. Now the nurse has enough vegetables planted for them to survive, and a man comes from town occasionally to give them beans and meat in exchange for whatever soap and sheets the nurse can trade from the reserves left in the old hospital.

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The villa was abandoned after the Allied victory, but the nurse and the English patient insisted on remaining behind even when the other nurses and patients moved to a safer location in the south. They are alone in this cold stone house where many rooms are inaccessible because of all the fallen rubble. The nurse sleeps in different rooms depending on the temperature or wind, and sometimes in the English patient's room. She is only twenty years old, and seemingly unconcerned with her own safety.

She picks up the notebook that lies next to the English patient's bed - a copy of The Histories by Herodotus that he has annotated with pages from other books, or his own observations. She begins to read his annotations of the classic text, of the various omnipotent desert winds. She reads about winds that respect no man and can wipe out any sign of humanity, depending on their disposition. She's distracted from her reading by the English patient's eyes on her.

The patient tells her that the Bedouins were keeping him alive for some reason - that he must have been useful to them somehow. He says they assumed he had a skill because his plane had crashed in the desert. Ultimately he says he fulfilled this expectation by accompanying them to a canyon, where the nomads unveiled a stockpile of guns. He was able to tell them just by feeling the guns what their make and gauge was, which helped them match the shells to the guns and reappropriate the discarded weapons as their own.

The Bedouins kept the English Patient blinded most of the time, so that his senses of touch, smell, and hearing became heightened. He traveled with them and was only given sight after dusk where he could finally witness his "captors and saviours." There were no women in the village, and he found desire only when watching a thin Bedouin boy dance alone in the desert.

Analysis:

The English Patient is an impressionistic, almost surrealistic novel, requiring the reader to piece together fragments of consciousness in order to truly discern a narrative line. The first chapter begins and ends with Hana, who at 20 years old is a rather mysterious protagonist. For one thing, we don't even learn her name in the first chapter. She is prone to self-destructive behavior, spends her life taking care of a burned man destined for death, and seems to have little will to live herself. Indeed, her character might make far more sense as a wizened woman of 50 or 60, but at 20 we're left with the prevailing sense that there is a darkness to her that we don't yet know the extent of. As a result we cannot necessarily trust her intentions. On the surface, she seems completely altruistic - an almost sexless creature of God, dedicated to one man whose life is futile and whose memories will take us on our narrative journey. But will she come into her own right as a character, and admit to a past and a future?

The villa makes an appropriate setting for this patchwork of dreams - indeed, Hana remarks that the abandoned house, now home only to her and the English patient, is itself a dream, a puzzle of hallways and corridors leading to dead ends in some directions and dizzying open spaces in others. It is this circuitousness of narrative that becomes a thematic thread for every aspect of the novel - the idea of portals that can open up into any character's consciousness, for us to imbibe memory, feeling, and dreams of the past, present, and future of anyone at any time. The villa itself has its own haunted history that we're reminded of constantly in future chapters - once, it

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was owned by the German army and used as a stronghold for their base of operations. Then it was taken over by the Allies and used as a war hospital, where Hana worked. Now, it is a haven of neutrality, occupied only by two.

Hana, as we'll see, is obsessed with the beginnings and endings of life, and it is no surprise then that the novel begins simply with her asking the English patient how he came to be burned. The beginning of his story is one of the most famous passages in the novel, invoking the image of the man on fire falling out of the crashing plane. Notice the sensuality of the imagery evoked by the English patient's memory, even though it is steeped in the horrors of the accident. Is this a product of character? Or of Ondaatje's imagistic language, which often seems too poetic to truly capture the grittiness of suffering? As of now, nothing seems particularly "dangerous" in this first chapter - indeed, there is a decided absence of conflict. How long can the narrative sustain without such conflict?

Hana needs her books to survive, and the library becomes her hiding place. Like the English patient retreats into memory, Hana retreats into fantasy. She has given up on life: she has no interest in preserving her own, and ironically has chained herself to preserving a man who seemingly has no reason to live. In a way, perhaps, the two have a mutually projective relationship - Hana experiences death through the patient, and the patient absorbs Hana's youth and life.

The nomadic Bedouins come across as almost ghostly, dreamy creatures. What is repeatedly mentioned is their silence - and the absence of women, as if they were direct descendants of divinity, without human legacy or tendencies. They take care of him and transport him from place to place, and the patient cannot understand why - until, that is, he realizes that it is for a most pragmatic concern. They want him to teach them about guns. Suddenly the dream of the nomads - their omnipotent mystery - crumbles in the way of pragmatism and war. The lack of women becomes a liability, a symbol of the male penchant for belligerence. It is only when the English patient sees a thin, androgynous boy dancing alone in the moonlight that his sexual desire is reawakened - for in the boy he sees nascent mystery once more, sensual pleasure that has yet to be corrupted.

Summary and Analysis of Chapter 2

A new character emerges - a man with bandaged hands who has been in a military hospital in Rome for more than four months. While in this military hospital, he tells the doctors and nurses nothing about himself, other than his serial number, which confirms that he is part of the Allies and not a member of the German army. Walking past a group of doctors, he hears Hana's name in their conversation and asks them where he can find her. They tell him that she is with an English patient in an old nunnery that was converted to a hospital after the Allies laid seige. The nurse and the patient refused to leave. The man with the bandaged hands leaves to find her.

The point of view switches back to Hana's - she is surprised, even shocked, by the appearance of the man with bandaged hands, a man she once knew, who had come all this way by train and walked four miles uphill in order to find her. He occupies a bedroom and makes himself at home. Hana tells him that she hopes he didn't come to persuade her to leave. She says that if he's going

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to stay they will need more food - she has vegetables and beans, but she'll need chickens to feed three people. Caravaggio - the man - responds that he's "lost his nerve," because killing chickens reminds him of his recent misfortune. He was caught by the Germans and they maimed his hands, nearly chopping them both off.

Caravaggio remembers his life as a spy for the Allies, and how they sent him to a German function to steal documents from one of the house's rooms. During the course of the party a woman took a photograph of him, and knowing it might lead to him being found out, he stole into the woman's room at night, while she was having sex, and managed to take back the camera. The woman saw him, but he mimed cutting his throat to let her know that she could not tell on him unless she was willing to risk her own life.

Caravaggio watches Hana eat, but does not eat in front of her as he is embarrassed by the fact that he cannot use a fork or knife anymore. He is taken with Hana, but he realizes she "has chained herself to the dying man upstairs." One day, he finds her sobbing and tells her that she's chained herself to a corpse, despite her protests of love for the burned man. Caravaggio tells her that she's ruining her young life, caring for a ghost.

Hana remembers how she came to be a nurse. First she flashes back to the Caravaggio who embraced her as a youth, the gregarious thief who was always such a character. Back then she was warmer, but now Hana thinks of herself as cold, hardened by her years treating dying patients. When she first saw the English patient, she was taken with him - he had no face, just an ebony pool of charred skin hardened into a protective shell. She remembers that there was nothing to recognize about him. It is this lack of recognizing anything that she's attracted to. When she first became a nurse, she cut off her hair so it wouldn't get in the way, never looked herself in mirrors, and called everyone "Buddy" so that she wouldn't have to use - and then stop using - any patient's name.

Caravaggio and Hana go for a walk in the garden. Caravaggio allows her to loosen the bandages and change them, and Hana sees that they removed both of his thumbs. He tells her a nurse had to do it - that they called in a woman to do it. Hana tells them they stopped torturing him - thus saving his hands - because the Allies were coming. They must have heard the bombing from outside that signaled that the Germans were getting out of the city.

Outside it is raining, and Hana plays the piano in the library. She looks up in a flash of lightning, and sees that there are two men in the room. Two soldiers - a Sikh and another man, both holding wet guns. She continues to play until she is finished, and then nods towards them. When Caravaggio returns, he finds Hana and the two soldiers in the kitchen making sandwiches.

Analysis:

Hana isn't actually named until this chapter, through the eyes of Caravaggio. Recall that in the villa, she is nameless - a woman shirking adulthood in order to avoid living life, cowering inside her own body, attached to a man who is faceless, nameless, without a future. As Caravaggio notes, she has chained herself to a dying man in order to expedite her own spiritual death. She has lost interest in life. At this point, we're not quite sure what prompted such a severe

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disillusionment, but her history as a nurse certainly gives us some idea. Working in a war hospital, she could never make deep connections - she learned not to use names, as soon enough the patient would be dead. When her father died, suddenly it became clear that death was the predominant theme of her life. And now she seems to be waiting for it, even encouraging it's arrival.

Caravaggio is as slippery a character as Hana. On a simple narrative level, he is the foil to the English patient - a living, breathing man in love with her. He realizes that she is emotionally unavailable, but presses her to let go of the Englishman - something that she is clearly not ready to do. When the soldiers show up at the end of the chapter, we see that Hannah is starting to become surrounded by life - and the question becomes whether she will blossom out of her cocoon of death or stay sheltered.

Caravaggio's story reminds us of the terrors of war. In his harrowing story of being caught by the Germans, the detail of the nurse who was brought out to cut off his hands is perhaps the most chilling. There is a clinicalness to war - an antiseptic feeling that permeates the entire book. Notice how much time Ondaatje spends describing smells - the odors of war as a technique for making the imagery richer and more effective. Clearly, Caravaggio still suffers from shock even though he's somewhat physically recovered. He tries to understand how he escaped even more torture, but Hana affirms the pragmatic reason for his survival: that the Germans simply had to leave.

When Caravaggio finds Hana sobbing, she seems to imply that it is because she loves a man who cannot love her back - the dying patient - but we get the sense that she is in truth searching for the love of her father. Somehow, this charred patient, unrecognizable, without a face, has become a surface upon which Hana projects her father, praying for reciprocal love. Caravaggio insists she cannot love him, but Hana responds, "Leave me alone," as if she wants nothing more than to be in this house of dreams where she can fantasize about filling in incomplete parts of herself.

The appearance of the soldiers is an interesting development, if only becomes it happens in such a dreamlike manner. Hana is playing piano in the thunder and lightning when suddenly these men appear carrying guns - even more reminders of death and war in this relic of a house. For a moment, we think it is a fantasy, until we see through Caravaggio that Hana has indeed welcomed these men and is making food in the kitchen with them, as if accepting of the fact that she can no longer be alone in the ruins. Perhaps now, after all this time, she must allow the house, her life, and her soul to be rebuilt.

Summary and Analysis of Chapter 3

One of the soldiers, an Indian Sikh, sets up a tent in the garden. At first he will not come into the house at all, occupied instead with dismantling the mines around the villa, leftovers from the war. Hana watches him bathe in the garden, and it's clear she's attracted to him. The other soldier, named Hardy, has left, but the Indian sapper remains, to the chagrin of Caravaggio (who is irked by the Indian's habit of humming contemporary Western songs). Caravaggio wanders at night and the sapper follows him, but Caravaggio tells him never to follow him again.

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The Indian sapper came to the villa because he heard the sound of Hana's piano-playing. During the war, the retreating German army often left pencil mines within musical instruments so that returning owners would be wounded. Hana loves the physicality of the sapper's movements, his innate sensuality. Caravaggio, however, thinks he is too fussy - that he washes his hands too much. The sapper counters this by calling Caravaggio "Uncle," and responding that in India, you wash your hands all the time, and before all meals.

Caravaggio creeps up on Hana, who is asleep in the library. Hana tells him that she almost had a baby a year ago, but had an abortion because of the war and the death of the father. She was in Italy at the time - and the combination of the war, her work in the hospitals, the death of her father, and the abortion all have pushed her to a place where she is more comfortable with death than with life. For a long time she used to talk to the baby in her head, but then she stopped because there was so much imminent danger during the war that she could no longer live in her head. With all the death around her, Hana says, "I stepped so far back no one could get near me. Not with talk of snobs, not with anyone's death."

Caravaggio and the Sikh take a trip to the valley together and talk about Hana. The sapper says his nickname is Kip, because his first bomb disposal report in England was covered with butter and the officer had jokingly said it was kipper grease. His real name is Kirpal Singh. Kip also meets the English patient, who tells Hana that they're getting along "famously." Hana simply notes to herself that there are too many men in the house now.

Kip finds a large mine in a field north of the villa, and is surprised by its scale and complexity. Hana insists on helping him dismantle it - she holds the wires while he assesses the mine and cuts the right wire. He manages to defuse the mine, but it's a sweaty, intense experience - and one that leaves him terrified and plagued by nightmares. Hana holds him so that he feels safe, but Kip has lost his equilibrium. He feels annoyed that Hana stayed with him while he defused the bomb - because now he feels like he owes her; that he is somehow responsible for her.

Later that night, Caravaggio, Hana, Kip, and the English patient have a party in the patient's room. Kip dances with them until they all hear a faint explosion in the distance. Kip says it couldn't have been a mine, but then he smells the scent of cordite and excuses himself without revealing his suspicions. Kip runs to where the mine went off and finds Hardy, the other soldier, amongst the dead. He buries him and returns to the party to find Caravaggio and the English patient asleep, but Hana still awake. Kip is secretly resentful at Hana's casualness earlier the afternoon while he dismantled the mine - for involving herself without a thought that her life could have ended so easily. All he wants to do now is touch Hana, to feel her, but he is plagued by fear and insecurity. Finally he makes his move: he dismantles the patient's hearing aid and touches Hana's shoulder.

Caravaggio asks Kip whether he would be able to fall in love with Hana if she were less intelligent than him - in other words, if he knew she was his intellectually inferior. He says that Hana is in love with the English patient because he "knows" things - because he's a talker who can seduce with words. Caravaggio says that they should all leave - that they're risking their lives in the villa for no reason. Hana responds that they can't leave the Englishman, and Caravaggio says she is stupid for risking Kip's life for the sake of a man who is already dead. Hana through a

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subtle physical movement shows that she's allied with Kip - and that Caravaggio's words affect her little. One night, Hana sneaks into Kip's tent, and they become lovers.

Analysis:

The love triangle between Caravaggio, Hana, and the English patient is complicated by the arrival of the Indian sapper, Kip. In the last chapters, there was no contest for Hana's affections - she was attracted only to the patient, for he represented death and the spiral of darkness that Hana found so alluring. Caravaggio, with his chastisements and philosophizing, offered little but the vague abstractions that Hana always hated about life. Kip, however, is the antithesis of the English patient - alive, taciturn, in the prime of his life. The title of this chapter, "Sometimes a Fire," thus gives us a sense of Hana's imminent internal conflict and impending journey. If she begins this chapter dead inside, with "no use for men," as she puts it, by the end, she will walk "without a false step" into Kip's tent so that she can be his lover. She will leave the safety of the villa, if even only for a night.

The dismantling of the mine in the garden becomes a symbolic moment in the main characters' journeys. Having fallen in love, Kip clearly wants to be as far from the bomb as possible - and resents not only Hana's nonchalance towards it, but also the fact that he's dismantling it in order to save her. After all, he comes to the villa solely to warn Hana about the possibility of the mine in the piano. He stays because he wants to ensure her safety and de-mine the area, which puts his life at risk, since he would expect Hana to leave the condemned property at his request. Why Hana doesn't leave, of course, is tied in to our analysis of her character in the last chapter: she's afraid to leave the patient she's become so dependent on for a fleeting sense of purpose. She's afraid to leave her refuge from the world. She's afraid to reconnect.

Caravaggio, meanwhile, is obviously in love with Hana, and now with Kip beginning to take over the role of the virile man, he can do little but chastise them both for remaining at the villa, and attempt to mask his jealousy. At the same time, however, he unwittingly drives them into each other's arms by daring Hana to abandon her doomed love for the English patient - to rediscover life in some form. Everyone, it seems, is learning from each other. In Caravaggio, Hana sees a man who can sink into love, someone who can fill up with deep, passionate feelings. In her own heart, she finds nothing but coldness. But around Kip, she begins to feel the "fire" of the chapter title - that inkling that the embers of life might kindle. And so she pursues it, telling Kip that she actually feels happy with him. She's surprised by such happiness.

Of course, there is still an absence of conflict in the novel. At this point, Hardy has died - but certainly not as a direct consequence of anyone's actions, meaning that there is no guilt on any of our protagonist's shoulders. Caravaggio is not jealous enough to be motivated to sabotage a relationship between Kip and Hana, and the English patient is curiously absent through much of the chapter - merely a projective surface for Hana's feelings. So where is all of this leading? Indeed, one of the more subtle aspects of The English Patient is its willingness to challenge traditional narrative structure, which often relies on planting incidents and paying them off later, all in the effort of heightening a central conflict. There is no central conflict here as of yet, because no one is in danger.

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At the same time, we do sense the beginnings of "plants" that might pay off later. We realize that there are active mines around the property that can kill any of the characters at any given time. We see that Hana is starting to open her heart to Kip and make him vulnerable - should he die, it would likely send her into a spiral from which she would never recover, as she has just spent most of her adult life obsessing about death. And what of Caravaggio or the English patient? Surely they must serve some larger purpose than as mere foils to the Hana/Kip story? As we continue, let us see not only how each character serves Hana's arc, but also how Hana serves their individual journeys. For Ondaatje's novel is less about a central character's journey and much more a dream novel where characters can take us on tangents for the purposes of achieving a greater impressionistic effect - one that suggests how a dying, burned man manages to bring all these characters together and change the course of all their lives.

Summary and Analysis of Chapters 4-5

After the writings of Herodotus, the Western world expressed little interest in the desert for hundreds of years. In the 1920s, the National Geographical Society held a few lectures on the subject of the desert, and in the 1930s, these modest lectures continued. By the end of the 1930s, however, the expeditions had begun again, and the Libyan desert had become one of the theaters of war.

Hana sits by the patient in his room, and he tells her that he was part of an expedition in 1930 that went searching for the lost oasis of Zerzura. The Desert Europeans all knew each other, says the patient - like a small "clutch of a nation" mapping and re-exploring. But on their first journey in 1930, they were hit by a terrible sandstorm that destroyed all their food and most of their animals. He found a desert town called El Taj, where he was saved. His journeys continued until 1936, when he met Geoffrey Clifton, who introduced him to his new wife, Katharine Clifton. Clifton, wealthy, with his own plane, became part of the expedition in search of Zerzura.

The patient says that the expedition party was surprised that Clifton brought his wife, creating a bit of tension between the party members. But one night, Katharine recited poetry and the patient fell in love with her voice. Soon enough he fell in love with her body, her awkward willowness, and they became lovers.

Katharine Clifton dreamt of the English patient one night, and woke up screaming next to her husband. In the dream, she sensed that the patient was angry, hostile that a married woman was close to him. She dreamt she was bent over like an animal, yoked back, unable to breathe. When she met him later, she watched him, talking bombastically, with lofty intellectualism, and thought of slapping him - a desire in equal parts sexual and furious.

Katharine was a firebrand, unable to handle the Englishman's politeness and formal decorum. Though they could not be apart for long, and snuck around for erotic rendezvous, Katharine wanted more. She somehow wanted Geoffrey to find out about the affair, but couldn't bear to tell him. Torn, frustrated, Katharine began physically assaulting the patient - leaving bruises on him from blows, cuts from flung plates and forks. He made up excuses for his wounds, and yet continued the affair, feeling disassembled by her.

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Indeed, the English patient, normally frigid, independent, a loner, suddenly found himself unable to be without Katharine. Though he was not comfortable with adultery, he believed that they were an almost cosmic force together. Still, she remained frustrated with their inability to truly be together, and treated him frostily in public.

Finally, Katharine cut him off, saying that they could never see each other again. She couldn't risk her husband finding out about them. He walked her home and told her coldly that he did not miss her yet. "You will," she says. The Englishman admitted he had been truly disassembled: he could not live without her.

Analysis:

The novel takes a surprising turn out of Hana's story, into the English patient's memories. Remember at the end of the last chapter, we weren't sure where the story was heading - because suddenly we had a proliferation of characters who had reign over the narrative, able to control it's direction, and we couldn't be sure whether it was a Kip-Hana relationship we were beginning to chart, a Kip-Caravaggio rivalry, or a Hana-English Patient symbolic love affair. Ondaatje surprises us then by following none of these lines, and instead returning to a character we seemingly abandoned - the English patient.

The English patient himself reveals his own torturous love affair with perhaps the most compelling character in the novel, Katharine Clifton. Katharine is very much an untamed stallion. Though she is married to a bit of a wet blanket, she is nothing but raw emotion and fury and passion - something that she manages to disguise in public. The Englishman, meanwhile, is of a loftier nature - more frigid, more intellectual, and in Katharine, he finds a soulmate who brings him down to earth. The problem, of course, is the definition of the relationship.

The Englishman keeps denying to himself that he needs her, then realizes more and more he can't bear to be without her for even a moment. Katharine, meanwhile, can't bear not to have her love be public. She deliberately causes wounds and marks on the Englishman's body so that somehow they might be discovered. But they are not - for the Englishman does not want to be owned, and Katharine does not want to tell her new husband. Finally, their romance is buried.

These are short chapters, but the feelings and imagery conjured in both are intense. Notice how the Englishman first falls in love with Katharine - through the sound of her voice reciting poetry. This harkens back to his falling into the desert from the burning the plane - the raw sounds of the Bedouin voices, the lonely boy dancing and ejaculating in the desert. There is a silence, a loneliness that is intrinsic to the Englishman's soul - and it is appropriate, then, that he begins these chapters with a review of the West's involvement in the desert, which has been intermittent, noncommittal, until the arrival of war. The desert, he seems to imply, has always been too much for the West to understand.

The novel, then, reflects the desert in some way - it is a place of silence where there is a sheer absence of stimulation. The desert is defined more by absence than presence. But then, in a torrent, a sandstorm can arrive to destroy everything. It is the perfect mirror for life - for these characters' lives, who are defined by nothingness, sacrifice, absence, until a torrent of passion

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consumes them, swallows them up, and leaves them raw, naked, wounded, changed. If we follow the imagery of the desert - the history of the desert, as narrated by the English patient - we clearly see the themes, symbols, and rhythms of Ondaatje's story.

Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6

Hana injects the patient with morphine, and we continue listening to his memories. He returns to 1936, Cairo, when he still was subsumed with thoughts of Katharine. On an expedition, he asked his friend Madox the name of the hollow at the base of a woman's neck. Madox told him to pull himself together.

Caravaggio tells Hana that he doubts the English patient is actually English. Instead, he believes the patient is a man named Almasy who worked for the Germans during the war. In the 1930s, Almasy had been one of the great desert explorers - a man who knew deserts and dialects, and went on a search for Zerzura, the lost oasis. When the war broke out, he joined the Germans, became a guide for the spies, and took them across Cairo. Hana brushes off this suggestion, still believing that the English patient is definitely English, but Caravaggio points to an incident a few nights ago when the patient offered a few interesting names while they were trying to name the villa dog: Cicero, Zerzura, Delilah. "Cicero," says Caravaggio, was a code name for a spy.

Caravaggio himself is a morphine addict, and thus knows that an excess of morphine will allow him to create a Brompton cocktail, or a sort of truth serum, for the English patient. He wants to find out once and for all whether the man is Almasy, but Hana says that the war is over and that it doesn't matter. Caravaggio persists, manages to inject the patient with more morphine and alcohol, and begins to ask him questions.

Before he crashed in the desert, the English patient tells Caravaggio he was leaving Gilf Kebir in 1943. His truck had exploded, likely sabotaged by Bedouin spies from one of the armies, and he went in search of a plane that he knew was buried in the desert. After four nights, he found the plane near a place called Ain Dua. He went inside a cave called the Cave of Swimmers, where he had left Katharine's body wrapped in parachute material. He had promised to return to her. He approached her naked, and ultimately made love to her body. He dressed, carried her into the sun, and put her into the plane.

Three years earlier, Geoffrey Clifton had planned a murder-suicide that would involve crashing his plane to kill Katharine and the English patient. The patient says that they he and Katharine were not even lovers at the time, but news of the affair must have reached Geoffrey somehow. The Englishman wasn't hurt in the crash - and Katharine wasn't killed either, just injured badly. She could not walk to safety, so the English patient left her in the cave alone and went looking for help.

In the cave, the injured Katharine - shattered ribs, broken wrist - remembered what happened once they stopped seeing each other. Her husband began suspecting the English patient once they stopped seeing each other in private - for he was so cold to her in public. She left him not just because she was worried about her husband finding out, but also because she knew she could never change him - that he would never ever reveal one more inch of himself to her.

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When the English patient returned to the cave three years later, he dug up the buried plane and put Katharine inside it. He put fuel into the tank and they begin to fly in the rotted plane, but the oil leaked onto him, the plane began to schism, and soon it was on fire, falling from the sky.

Hana comes in and finds Kip and the English patient passing a can of condensed milk back and forth. The English patient tells Hana that they are both "international bastards" - born in one place, and choosing to live elsewhere, "fighting to get back to or get away from our homelands all our lives." Hana watches Kip and sees traits in him that she has in herself - the emotionally disturbed handmaiden, changed forever by war.

Analysis:

The English patient continues his story, albeit elliptically, and we see the tragic conclusion of his love affair with Katharine. Ondaatje is less concerned with creating a compelling "narrative" account of the affair - a chronological account - and more with the vagaries of memory, and how one experiences memory and feelings and buried experience. As a result of this, the English patient tells the story backwards - first he goes in search of a plane, where he finds Katharine's dead body. Then he tells the story of Katharine's death. And finally he returns to where we ended the previous chapter - just after he and Katharine agreed to separate.

Katharine reveals that she left the English patient not just to prevent her husband from finding out about them, but more because she felt like she couldn't change him or open him up any further. He was ice cold, closed up, and had no interest in revealing his deeper character. What's ironic, of course, is that it is only once they separate that Geoffrey Clifton finds out about the romance. As the patient treats Katharine more cruelly in public, her husband begins to suspect their prior history and then seeks to mete out punishment. What he does, of course is extinguish his own life, and then renew the seeming purgatory of Katharine and the Englishman's relationship. The English patient takes her to a cave, promising to return, but doesn't come back for three years.

From a strictly narrative point of view, the English patient's story is seemingly abusive of the reader - it skips in time, leaves out details, and is as fragmentary as consciousness. But it is the point after all, of this novel, to bring together this house of frigid, dead souls, and to let them clear out the cobwebs and rediscover light, to rekindle their fires, if only for brief moments. Each of our characters gets his or her turn to find hope for life once more by revisiting the past.

In this chapter, Hana becomes even more of a bystander, while the other characters reveal their wounds. Caravaggio is a morphine addict, Kip a man who has lost his connections to his emotions, the English patient just a trove of buried memories. Everyone's identity is so tenuous - especially with the war over. Hana has given up connection to the world, and no longer has allegiances. Caravaggio is a thief who shows little loyalty. And no one can be sure who the English patient even is. It is one of Caravaggio's fascinating character quirks that he's so obsessed with discovering who people actually are - as if it will help give him meaning in this villa where identity seems so prismatic.

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How Ondaatje begins and ends chapter is of vital interest, for it gives us clues to the next chain of the narrative. At the end of this chapter, Hana turns her attentions to Kip. Previously they were on the English patient - as if her eyes seem to create a narrative spotlight that allow for the expansion and transmission of consciousness. But now she's looking at Kip, and recognizing in him what she sees in herself: disconnection, withdrawal, loss. As the spotlight turns to Kip, we wait to see what has happened in his past to make him seek out this purgatorial villa, where souls that think themselves doomed find their last glimmers of life.

Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-8

Kip flashes back to Westbury, England, in 1940. In his Sikh family, he was the second son. The oldest was meant to go into the army, the next brother would be a doctor, and the final brother would be a businessman. But with the outbreak of war, Kip joined a Sikh regiment and became part of an engineer unit assigned to defusing bombs. The life expectancy in his unit was only ten weeks.

Kip's leader was a man named Lord Suffolk, who took a liking to the young Sikh, introducing him to the customs of England "as if it was a recently discovered culture." Kip thought of Lord Suffolk as the best of the English, and truly adored and trusted him. He arrived in England knowing no one, distanced from his family in the Punjab, only 21 years old. One night, he found that Lord Suffolk had been killed by a 250-kilogram bomb while he was attempting to dismantle it. Singh had been with Suffolk for over a year. He buried his emotions, pretended his mentor was still alive, and went to dismantle a second bomb that had fallen half a mile away from the first. He took no one with him.

Kip arrived at the bomb site and managed to dismantle it, keeping the deaths of Suffolk and the other soldiers out of his head. He wrote down his notes on how he dismantled the bomb and handed them to the officers. Because of his nascent skill, he was promoted, and was expected to become the new Lord Suffolk. Kip, however, was used to being an anonymous member of another race, and didn't enjoy the attention. He escaped to Italy where he could once again be invisible.

Kip tells Hana about his family - mostly about his older brother who refused to be subservient to England and ultimately went to jail. He tells Hana that he is different, more silent and serene than his firebrand brother. He thinks his father is still alive, but hasn't had letters from him in awhile. He seems to remember Lord Suffolk much more, as if he is his true father.

In the library, Caravaggio accidentally nudges the fusebox off the counter and Kip catches it before it falls, preventing an explosion. Seeing Caravaggio's horrified face - a face that reveals that he now thinks he owes Kip his life - Kip merely laughs. Kip flashes back to a time when he was lowered into a pit in a harness to dismantle an Esau bomb. He remembers the frigid pit, how calm he was despite the leaking liquid oxygen, despite all the people watching from outside the pit that he would have killed with a mistake. He remembers that the only person who kept him human during this period was his partner, Hardy.

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Hana sits with Kip as he washes his hair. They have a habit of rising at daybreak and eating dinner with the last available light. One night, after blowing out the candle in the Englishman's room, Hana goes to the library. Kip goes to the library to wait for her, and watches her lying on the couch. Caravaggio, seemingly sleeping in the library, is actually awake and knows Hana is there. Caravaggio gets up, walks over to Hana, and extends his arm towards her, but is grabbed by Kip. Caravaggio, steamed by their game, leaves the room. Kip and Hana make love.

At some point, Hana and Kip sleep for a month beside each other without having sex - a formal celibacy. They are reminded of the delicacy of love - the simple comforts of touching, scratching, mutual affection. Kip remembers when his mother died - how he scratched through the sari, scratched the skin, just as he's doing to Hana right now.

Analysis:

It's Kip's turn to confess, and it's a confession we eagerly welcome, as he is perhaps the most mysterious character in the novel. Hana, after all, has a clear throughline and clear "need" - namely to remain tied to her patient, to avoid venturing out into the world. But why Kip is here at the villa, why he is so frigid, and why he dismantles bombs still remains unexplained. Here, we begin to get answers. Kip is the middle child of his family, and came to the field of bomb dismantling more or less by accident. But he found joy in the work under the tutelage of Lord Suffolk, who treated him like a son.

If Hana has issues with her father dying, then Kip has them with his mother dying. He seems to have little interest in discussing his father; indeed, he seems to see Lord Suffolk as his father. Much of this chapter, then, is about the coping mechanisms Kip has developed to handle all the pain from his father's rejection, Lord Suffolk's death, and his mother's death. Indeed, as Kip is merely 21, and Hana 20, we can even see The English Patient as a coming-of-age novel in its own right - a story about two young people who aren't sure how to find peace, and who have yet to come into their own. (This is a reason why watching the film of The English Patient as a substitute for reading the novel is a terrible error. In the film, Minghella recasts Hana and Kip as thirty-somethings, losing the idea that they are simply young, lost, in purgatory.) At the end of the novel, Kip lies in Hana's embrace, thinking not of sex, but of his mother, and of the comfort he tried to find in her at her death.

Lord Suffolk's death seems to have a terrible impact on Kip as well. When Lord Suffolk dies, Kip is treated as his replacement - a man of equal stature and vision. It is, of course, quite similar to a son who has to take over his father's business upon the elder's death. But Kip can't handle the attention, the pressure. He is a quintessential middle child, and flees to Italy, hoping to rediscover anonymity. But here in this villa, his problems, his memories, and his fears return - as if alive in this house of spirits - and in Hana he can only find temporary mollification before sex becomes a burden, and the arms of a woman become a place to face the pain of the past and relive tragic memories.

The English patient vanishes here, and we sense that he is losing his relevance in terms of Hana's arc. Instead, we look to him to guide us through the vagaries, the lessons of love that will soon inform Hana and Kip's eventual maturity. We're not sure if they'll end up together - after all, no

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love in this novel seems to go without terrible tests - but we do know that they will learn from the English patient, and find in his story a redemption that will guide their own. The real question, however, is that Hana and Kip both seem plagued by the loss of everyone who is dear to them. Hana lost all her patients and her father, while Kip lost his brother, Lord Suffolk, and his mother. All things are in place for either Kip or Hana to die and leave the other to suffer, but the question is who needs the redemption more.

There is also the repeated detail of the dead body that comes again and again in the novel. The English patient makes love to Katharine's dead body in the cave. Kip holds on to his mother's dead body and mimics this with Hana. Hana comes to feel more comfortable around dead bodies than around live bodies. The idea of the soul seems foreign to any of the characters - the body is an end in itself. As we reach the climax of The English Patient, let us examine whether the characters change in their attitudes towards the body.

Summary and Analysis of Chapters 9-10

The English patient tells Katharine about how he fell in love with her. He says he first saw her emerge from a plane alongside her husband, Geoffrey Clifton. He saw before him a married woman who had unexpectedly joined their expedition, and was struck by her khaki shorts and bony knees. He says that she was too ardent, too eager for the desert, but that she took it upon herself to learn all about it - she read everything about the desert, even hunting down marginal articles. The English patient says he was fifteen years older than her, but that she was hungrier for knowledge than he had expected.

He loaned her his copy of Herodotus, and she read from it at a party that Geoffrey threw for the expedition. The English patient says that this is a story of how he fell in love with a woman who read him a specific story from Herodotus. He didn't even have to look up as she read the words across the fire. It was the story of King Candaules, who was married to a woman whose beauty he could not keep to himself. The king told Gyges of his wife's exceptional beauty and arranged for him to sneak into her room and see her undress. But the queen saw Gyges as he left and realized what her husband had done. She told Gyges he had two choices: to slay Candaules and take over the kingdom, or to be killed. Gyges chose the former. Katharine finished the story, and then looked at the English patient. With the help of this story, this anecdote, he fell in love.

The English patient became doubly formal in her company until one day she came to him and said simply, "I want you to ravish me." The two became lovers. They did everything they could to avoid being found out by Geoffrey Clifton, but the English patient knew it would only be a matter of time. He was an aristocrat - he had a large circle of friends and family, one of whom would eventually find out. But Katharine couldn't handle the ambiguity of the affair, telling the Englishman that he just slid past everything with the fear of being owned or named. Eventually, she returned to her husband.

Back in the present day, Caravaggio injects the patient with more morphine. The English patient continues his story, but no longer uses "I." Instead, he talks about Katharine and Almasy. Caravaggio asks the patient who is "talking" in these memories, for the English patient cannot admit he is Almasy. The patient responds simply, "Death means you are in the third person." The

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English patient remembers bringing Katharine to the Cave of Swimmers and using the sand on the walls to make her body beautiful. He left, promising to return, but when he got to El Taj, he was just rounded up like a second-rate spy, despite his fervent protests about his dying wife. The patient, interestingly, refers to Katharine as his wife, even though he realizes he should have used Clifton's name.

Caravaggio asks the English patient if he murdered Katharine Clifton. He says Geoffrey Clifton was with British Intelligence - and Caravaggio responds by saying that British Intelligence knew about Almasy's affair with Katharine even before Geoffrey. When Geoffrey died, British Intelligence went to capture the English patient, and finally succeeded at El Taj. Caravaggio tells Almasy that he worked for the British as a thief and that Almasy was considered a dangerous spy - all of British Intelligence had been looking for him. The English patient knows nothing of all of this and can only attest to his love for Katharine.

Kip and Caravaggio celebrate Hana's 21st birthday. Kip remembers when he first flew into Naples, Italy in October of 1943 as part of a sapper unit. The Germans had brilliantly and viciously attacked the Italians, laying mines all over the city and even sabotaging the electrical system so it would go up in flames once the electricity came back on. The city was evacuated so Kip and his fellow sappers could demine the city.

One day, Hana sees Kip in the garden, listening to the radio on his headphones. He hears something awful, runs into the tent to grab his rifle, and then sprints up into the English patient's room. He tells Almasy that the Allies have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, and that he wants to kill Almasy because he is a representative of the West - the West that would create such destruction. The English patient begs Kip to kill him, but Kip doesn't. Kip leaves the villa on his motorbike, promising himself that he will not think of Hana. His dismay causes him to skid and fall into the water.

Hana, meanwhile, writes a letter to her stepmother in which she finally explains how her father died. He was burned, and deserted by his men. She could have saved him, but she was too far away. The novel ends with Kip: it is years later, and Kip is a doctor with a wife and two children. He thinks often of Hana, who used to send him letters, but because he didn't reply, she finally stopped.

Analysis:

So much of the final chapters of The English Patient are about echoes - about the transmission of knowledge and the passing down of wisdom and lessons. Indeed, one only has to look at the final image to see this: in the last moment of the book, Kip catches a fork that nearly hits the ground. This is a seemingly innocuous gesture, but one that mirrors the moment when he caught the fuse box that almost blew up the villa. He has lost his need for a life-and-death struggle, abandoned his desire to cultivate the coping mechanisms that help him feel. He has healed somehow, found maturity, and is now ready to have his own family.

Hana, meanwhile, undergoes her own transition at the end of the novel. She writes to her stepmother, and finally we learn why she has trapped herself in the villa. Her father, it seems,

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was burned beyond recognition, and she was too far away to save him. Now, the English patient has become a proxy for her dead father. She traps herself in the villa, a utopian compound where she can be with him all the time, in an effort to atone for the "sin" she believes she has committed. She can't let her patient go, for to do so would mean letting go of her guilt over her father. When he finally dies, however, we know that Hana will finally be at peace: she has done her duty.

The structure gets more complicated in these final chapters, as the English patient revisits his earlier story while filling in many of the earlier gaps. We begin to see just how much he was in love with Katharine - so much so that he was blind to everything that was happening around him as the British closed in on him. Indeed, it seems that he forgot his own identity. Even now, when he is close to death, he remembers nothing of Almasy, recalling only his love for Katharine. Caravaggio keeps pressing him to absorb the name of Almasy, to claim it as his own, but the English patient cannot. In death, he only has the memory of love. Everything else is just third-person, irrelevant.

Kip's threat to kill the English patient is ironic, for he was the one who disdained his older brother's confrontational demeanor. Recall that his older brother was thrown in jail because he could not be subservient to anything English, anything Western. Now, the moment that Kip hears about the atomic bomb, he comes after Almasy, believing that if he kills an Englishman he will somehow be able to atone for all the sins of the West. Ultimately Kip doesn't kill the patient and flees, but there is lingering doubt as to whether he's ever really healed. He thinks about Hana even after he has married; even running away - from the villa, from the West, from war, from everything - cannot erase his feelings for her.

In the end, we're left with the sensations associated with healing over the death of a man who came to value love over all else. Almasy is, in fact, the truest symbol of war: a man whose identity is valued by everyone else, but who is unaware of his own political significance. All Almasy ever wanted was Katharine - so much so that he lost touch with time, space, senses, his physical identity, and his political identity. From the English patient's journey, Kip, Hana, and Caravaggio learn that love transcends all. And even if they don't absorb this fully (for they are all young, headstrong, and lost in the whirlwind of immaturity), they all have their individual moments of realization, growth, and transformation.

Almasy and the Desert

Michael Ondaatje has a penchant for blending documentary and fiction, and for maintaining historical accuracy in his representation of time and place. In The English Patient, we see this attention to detail primarily in his discussion of the history of the desert. Over the course of the novel, Almasy leads us through this brief history of Western interest in the Libyan desert.

Herodotus was the first to study the desert in The Histories, which charted the different types of wind. Herodotus' history of the winds is at once compelling and humorous - he lists wind like the aajej, the winds in southern Morocco, which the local dwellers defended themselves against with knives; the africo, which is so strong, it blows into Rome on occasion; even a wind called the datoo out of Gibraltar, which carries fragrance. The gusto with which Almasy documents each of

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the winds in Herodotus' history bolsters our sense of his character as an information-gatherer. He is obsessed with facts - knowing, learning, acquiring - not so much out of curiosity, but more because he believes (at least initially) that it is the purpose of life.

After Herodotus, says Almasy, the Western world demonstrated little interest in the desert for hundreds of years. For over 2300 years, there was an "averting of eyes," a yawning chasm of silence. In the 1800s, the desert became popular amongst "river seekers," before finally becoming a center of renewed fascination in the 1920s. This interest manifested largely through privately funded expeditions that usually ended with prestigious lectures at the Geographical Society in London at Kensington Gore. Indeed, Almasy expresses a desire to map the desert that recalls how modern people wish to climb Everest - for the challenge, because of its novelty, and because it is a grand way to show off. Still, these expeditions required years of preparation, research, and fundraising, and the glamour of the expedition fad didn't disguise the fact that many people died. Eventually the desert lost all glamour when it became a theater of WWII in 1939.

Almasy calls himself a new breed in those WWII years - part of the Desert Europeans, transplanted from Europe to the desert and forced by circumstances to become more familiar with the desert than they even were with their homeland. The desert becomes his new home, and he becomes a master of its elements, its volatility, and its equanimity. After the war, the West again lost interest in the desert. And thus Almasy thinks of himself as a man without a homeland: he forsook his home for war, and war for the desert, and cannot even remember all the political associations of "Almasy" - hence his willingness to disown the name Caravaggio gave him. He thinks of himself only as a man of the desert.