In the Skin of a Lion: Skinned

by janeO

 In the novel entitled “In the Skin of a Lion” which is authored by Michael Ondaatje, fiction and facts are embraced together. Ondaatje takes the readers to Toronto with its amazing historical facts. From the building of the viaduct and water transplant to the involvement of Ambrose Small and Nicholas Tamelcoff.Such facts make the story alive and make the readers more connected to the novel itself.The facts are powerful tools for Ondaatje to be able to picture the events in his novel.

 It is interesting how Ondaatje brought up the struggle of the workers, the discrimination against typical workers, and the flow of love and romance which brings the characters together. The novel totally “skinned” the pictures of the workers situation and sacrifices towards the making of the viaduct and water transplant. He was able to portray the real events compared to what is in the pictures. I admire Ondaatje for being such connected to the events rather than the picture itself. Thus, making the novel a profound history, rather than just a novel. The words he used are just as u can picture in your mind. The readers could even smell the sweat, the steel, the tar and the soil on the settings which shows the suffering of the workers.

 Despite the sufferings of the workers and how Ondaatje portrays Harris in the beginning, the end of the chapter brings out Harris as a person. The ending of the novel skinned the character of Harris. Ondaatje makes a point that a person who struggles for his city has to be strong and brave.Harris has made sacrifices because I believe that he didn’t want someone to die from the workers. I think that with his perseverance in helping his community he has to be numb of what is really going on. Ondaatje was able to bring up Harris soft side, which I believe was important as closure of the novel because it makes the readers to also appreciate Harris for his hard work in the success of both infrastructures.

Love and romance also adds flavour to the novel. It gives inspiration to the main character Patrick Lewis. Ondaatje portrays how love can alter someone either making him strong or cold. Love also shows its power by bringing the workers together despite their differences.

Though I admire his work, I personally think that readers must read the novel not only once but as long as they are interested with his ideas.


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