A realistic view of an average Toronto citizen – Sara Lavigna

by capreviewroom

In the novel, In the skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje he tells the story of numerous people that link together in Toronto. With Michael himself being a Toronto native, he takes on the responsibility of showing a realistic view of what an average Toronto citizen would have gone through in the early forties. The majority of the stories in his book centres around the main character, Patrick Lewis.  Although, we are sometimes in different points of view throughout the book each character somehow links back to Patrick.  He splits the book up into three sections, which to me represents the stages of Patrick’s life. First we have the beginning which is like the childhood stage.  The first story in the book is appropriately called “little seeds” the title suggests the beginning of someone’s life which tells the story of Patrick’s childhood.  The second phase of the book represents early adulthood this is where most of self-questioning seems to go on in someone’s life. Who they want to be, where do they want to go, and if they found out, are they on the right path? In this section of the book we are let into the hardships of Patrick’s life from him working in the corrupt water filtration building. And in the last stages of the book we are at a conclusion we find out missing information from Patrick’s life and we find out how he copped with everything.  I feel like Ondaatje gives an authentic view of a Toronto citizen.  Most of the characters in the book are fictional but they metaphorically represent an average citizen that lived back then.  Ondaatje took his time and conscious effort to seek out information of unnamed workers who worked on the bridge and in the water filtration plant.  The workers in these places were not easy to find due to poor recording and ethnic discrimination.  Ondaatje gives an authentic voice to those who could not speak, he does it in such a realistic and thoughtful way it’s hard to believe that most of the characters in the novel are fictional people.  I like this book because it gives a believable story to fictional characters.  Although, I can see why a lot of people would be confused from the chronology throughout the story.  Ondaatje uses flashback so frequently throughout the book it’s hard to tell what time zone you are in.  But regardless I found this book interesting and thoughtful.


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