In the Skin of the Lion

by kthomson11

Michael Ondaatje, the author of In the Skin of the Lion, is well known not only as a novelist or a poet but as an artist. Ondaatje uses these strengths to paint a picture with his writing style, having the ability to give rise to the untold truths of his characters.

In the Skin of the Lion, Michael Ondaatje tells the untold story of the great historians of the new Toronto area in the early 1920s to 1930s. Ondaatje places you into the lives of the early immigrants in the undeveloped Toronto area and demonstrates how they overcame the obstacles during the construction of the city. The focus is on the work, labour, and energy invested into the lives of those settlers that created the early beginnings of this new world. He emphasizes the importance of how connections between individuals have the ability to shape peoples lives and the way the world is perceived.

The book is broken up into three different stories that all happen to be interconnected around the main character in one way or another. In the beginning we are thrown into a story about a young boy and the intricate details of his father’s everyday life. Here we are introduced to the main character the young boy, Patrick Lewis. From here the book continues on through the internal struggles of Patrick trying to identify his own voice and the journey that it takes him on. In the second story, it focuses on Patrick’s life as he begins to grow up following in his father’s foot steps and we are introduced to Patrick’s struggles with love and personal identity. Ondaatje allows for you to feel the pain and confusion that Patrick is confronted with in his search for clarity. In the third story, we are still following along with Patrick and his continued search for his own “unmasking”. We are introduced to his interconnections with all the people of his life and how they are all able to contribute to help him “shed his skin” and find the inner identity of himself.

In the Skin of the Lion we are introduced to many areas of internal struggle and how one must develop and overcome them to own up to their own personal voice. The creative and visual writing style keeps you involved and intrigued to read each and every page. It puts you into the position of the character and allows you to feel the feelings of passion and distress.



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