In Search of an Identity

by tonyvu24

The book, In the Skin of a Lion is similar to buying three books for the price of one. In each three stories of the book, it mainly discusses the main character, Patrick Lewis. The author, Michael Ondaajte’s intention of the title of the book, is to reveal Patrick’s transition from his childhood to adulthood, showing his struggles and relationships throughout. There are parallel representations of dark and light colors in the three readings, which is another possibility that helps give the title that certain name.

Initially in the beginning of the story, the author Ondaatje lures the reader in by capturing certain images such as visual images of crisp and clean scenery of winter. There are instances in the story where the reader can visualize the feelings of cold air during the nights when the workers were constructing the viaduct. When one of the Nun’s fell off the bridge, the atmosphere became dark and gloomy, as another visual image. The conclusion of the story is rather confusing in part three of the book because the reader is left pondering what happens after Hana and Patrick drives out to Marmora to pick up Clara Dickens. There are some parts of the story that leaves the reader uncertain whether the main character is physically involved in the scene or it may have been a part of a dream.

In some parts of the book, the story starts to develop and becomes difficult to put down, such as the part of the story introducing Nicholas Temelcoff in “The Bridge”, and the part about Ambrose Small’s disappearance in “The Searcher”. By reading all of the construction scenes, it shows the reader a sense that if we were to go to those areas today, we can see those landmarks. Ondaajte did a handful of research to the point of where a lot of the streets, stores, and landmarks were once there in the past, and are still today.Certain dialogues can be heard from reading the story. For example, when Patrick confronts commissioner Harris in the filtration plant. We can also picture the dialogue of Hana and Patrick, where she is energetic to tell Patrick some of her stories. Caravaggio and Patrick dialogue in prison can be easily heard.

The book emphasizes certain daily conflicts an average individual faces. For instance, romance, friendship, change of occupation, and confrontation. Only question that Ondaatje can answer is what occurred in the end of book three when Patrick mentions light? A fascinating story that is a must read for those who want to take a trip back in history to see parts Ontario and building landmarks being constructed. For those who wants to read poetry and fiction work that Ondaatje wrote in the past, this is the book for you where he ties it altogether.


One Comment to “In Search of an Identity”

  1. Your inclusion of the book’s historical landmarks is a nice touch, and the recommendation to history buffs is well founded. A proof read to correct the grammatical errors and this would be a constructive book review. Good job.

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