discussion on The English Patient Chapters I-V

Questions on ”The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje. Chapter 1-5 a) The English Patient is told through multiple voices (a third person narrator, the characters through dialogue, passages and quotes from other works, etc.) and perspectives, and some characters tell small parts of their own stories in first person (“I,” “me,” “we”) through dialogue or, in Hana’s case, through thoughts she writes in books in the library. However, only the English patient tells a large part of his own story from first person point of view (he even tells us his name if we are paying attention, when he lists the people who are part of the desert expedition). What does this suggest, if anything, about his character and his voice? b) There are two romantic relationships highlighted in the novel: the relationship between Hana and Kip, and the relationship between Katharine and the English patient. One is current and one took place in the past; one is socially acceptable and one is adulterous; one is gentle and one can be characterized as passionately violent. Do these relationships have any similarities? Does the contrast between them illustrate anything significant about the characters or the narrative? c) The four main characters are all very different, but all are united by shared human experiences. What is one theme present in the novel that you consider important and how is it represented in the experiences of the various characters? d) formulate a question or make an observation about any aspect of the novel.

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