Posts tagged ‘Patrick Lewis’

February 3, 2011

Love Triangles and Confused Lions

by kristiemendoza

The concept of having conflict amongst the different classes in society has always been a consistent indication that humans believe that societies must be segregated by a system of class. Through the course of history, authority and repression have always been a constant fight concerning the poor and the rich. In Michael Ondaatje’s novel, “In the Skin of a Lion,” an in-depth sense of conflict is being told in a unique way. His story reveals the lives of the poor immigrants that are new to Canada and have to survive in the fast, developing city of Toronto in the early twentieth century. Ondaatje describes the adversities the immigrated families had to conquer, and their efforts and hatred directed at the wealthy. The main theme of this literary fiction is the opposition between the rich and poor of society, which is being portrayed through conflicts and the characters that arise in the story.

Ondaatje is a Canadian writer of prose and poetry whose skill of expression captivates audiences from across the world. His novel, “In the Skin of a Lion,” has brought much success to his involvement in literature. This is the novel in which he creates such relatable characters that have their own, personal story. The main character, Patrick Lewis, goes through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, while experiencing pain, love, and confusion.

The theme of rivalry between the wealthy and poor finally appears in “The Searcher,” in which Patrick is hired to investigate the disappearance of millionaire, Ambrose Small. The audience is presented to Ambrose Small’s mistress, Clara Dickens. Clara becomes Patrick’s lover, where he suddenly falls deeply in love with her. Only after a few weeks is when Clara tells Patrick, “…sometime after that I’ll leave you…for Ambrose” (Ondaatje 72). She would leave him for Ambrose, because of his wealth and power, which leaves Patrick heartbroken. The controversy between Patrick and Ambrose surely reflects on the theme of the novel.

Before Clara leaves, Patrick is introduced to Clara’s friend, Alice Gull. Alice is another character besides Patrick in this novel to show aggression to the rich. She has an immense hatred towards the rich, where she tells Patrick to “name the enemy and destroy their power” (Ondaatje 124). This is what Alice sets out to do; start a revolt.

Although from the beginning of the novel the reader may feel confused, after reading the final two chapters the story becomes clear. If readers are interested in stories depicting love triangles, this is the novel to read.

February 2, 2011

In the Skin of a Lion Review

by stefmiele

The novel, In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje is a heartbreaking love story set in Toronto during the 1900’s. In the skin of a Lion was written as if it is three different books put into one. It is a novel that is written in poetic prose undeniably requires gradual, concentrated and re-readings in order to grasp the main plot, themes, ideas and character relationships. The novel was somewhat confusing, but as I read on I began to see that the book gradually developed and I was able to understand.

The novel jumps between one story and another, primarily focusing on a totally different aspect of characters lives and setting than the previous part. The novel also does a phenomenal job of articulating the base of love, romance and relationships through multiple characters: Alice Gull, Clara Dickens, Ambrose Small and Patrick Lewis.

The main plot in In the Skin of a Lion focuses on Patrick’s journey in life, the people he meets along the way and the complications he has to overcome. The book starts off as Patrick as an eleven-year-old living outside a logging camp with his father, Hazen, a logger and self-taught explosives expert, which we see plays a major part throughout the book, to the two women he falls deeply in love with and the daughter he raises despite not being his, to threatening to blow up the water treatment facility that he played a major role in creating. When he is older, Patrick reflects on his life and notes that is no longer “a single story but part of a mural… a fitting together of accomplices.” (145) Alice explained to him that it was time for him to tell his own story, even though she nor her friend, Clara did not reveal anything about their pasts, leaving Patrick and us, the readers, to guess. The three remarkably different parts in the novel are different time periods in Patrick’s life and the different people he meets and the way they help him accomplish his journey through life.

Word Count: 343

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February 2, 2011

In the Skin of a Lion Review

by bmittlestead

In the skin of a lion, by Michael Ondaatje, is a novel that takes you into the life and along the eventful journey of the immigrants in Canada in the early 1900-1930’s.  This fictional narrative captures the emotional and physical hardships that these settlers endure to help build their cities. It tells the story of characters Patrick Lewis and fellow immigrants and explores their lives as they sacrifice much of their time and efforts, sometimes even their lives, to build such historic monuments as Toronto’s Harris Water Treatment Plant and the Prince Edward Viaduct. It follows his life from childhood to adulthood and gives an in depth look into his intimate relationships. Throughout the novel the reader is introduced to many characters varying from Patrick’s family to his future lovers. 

Ondaatje illustrates his story though the excellent use of captivating imagery.  He establishes this visual theme beginning on the very first page, “he can see two or three lanterns between the soft maple and walnut tree. He hears their boots on gravel. Thirty loggers, wrapped up dark, carrying axes and small packages of food which hang from their belts…Already they seem exhausted, before the energy of the sun.”  He continues to embed the settings into the readers mind throughout the entire novel.  Ondaatje engages the reader using many elements of setting that appeal to all the senses.  Through these techniques the reader has no choice but to leave their surroundings and surrender to those of the book.

The novel starts out with young Patrick growing up admiring the older men in his community and shadowing his father as much as possible.  He acquires the skills necessary to join his father’s trade as a dynamiter. He is later brought to Toronto where he uses these skills to do unpleasant work digging and blasting tunnels on the Harris Water Treatment Plant.  Throughout this story Patrick is involved in a number of relationships with several characters, both friendly and intimate.  Ondaatje harnesses the powerful feelings of passion and love to intensify the relationships between his characters, “Her hand came up to his face again, her fingers feeling his skin, the flesh on his cheeks.”  A few of the characters come and go throughout the story, but they are never far away. 

Michael Ondaatje is an amazing well known author and he wasted no talent writing this book.  This novel has won many awards including the 1988 City of Toronto Book Award, 2002 Canada Reads Competition, and was a finalist for the 1987 Ritz Paris Hemingway Award. His methods for creating intense visuals and an intimate relationship with the reader are unforgettable, and are something that should definitely be experienced.

February 2, 2011

In the Skin of A Lion Review

by aialungo

The novel by Michael Ondaatje, a great Canadian author, “In the Skin of a Lion” takes the reader through the life of one man in particular named Patrick Lewis.  The author uses imagery and specific detail that allows the reader to imagine the story play out in their mind. He focuses mainly on this character as well as some other immigrant laborers. This novel takes place in Toronto during the early 1900’s. The author touches upon Patrick’s childhood and uses the details of this childhood to foreshadow the events of Patrick’s future.  The novel then ventures into the storylines of other characters who will eventually contribute to Patrick’s life.

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February 2, 2011

Love defines who we are

by alexvyates

Michael Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a Lion is a fictionalized account of life in Toronto during the 1920‘s, seen through the eyes of Patrick Lewis, a former logger who comes to the city searching for Ambrose Small, a millionaire theatre magnate who has vanished. During his search, he falls madly in love with Small’s mistress, Clara Dickens, and meets her friend, Alice Gull. Years later, Patrick returns to Toronto without Clara, where he finds work, friendship and a new lover among the city’s new working class, mainly non English speaking immigrants from Macedonia and other Eastern European countries.

The novel is an in depth, imagined look at the people who helped build Toronto into the mega city it is today. Several of the characters portrayed in the novel are based on real people who greatly influenced the creation of Toronto, but as a reader we feel that everyone could have been a real people: they have flaws, long complex histories and relationships, and all of them deal with love in various ways, like all real human beings do. Ondaatje’s characters are so incredibly brought to life that we lose ourselves in the story and forget that these are made up individuals and that their lives are therefore make believe.  Love and the complexity of relationships between lovers and friends is a common theme of In the Skin of a Lion.

“He had always wanted to know her when she was old.”

This quote is thought by Patrick Lewis, and it shows how truly deep and profound his love was for the woman in his life. His dream of a perfect life was destroyed, and the man he becomes after he loses her is nothing like the man he was when this woman was in his life. For it is love, or the lack of it, that drives and defines Patrick. Without the love of this woman, he is a fragile shell of his former self. Events will always happen that we can not control, and it is how we react to those events that create who we are. Seemingly innocent and random events have great impact on the lives of the people of In the Skin of a Lion. And like in real life, the line separating love from lust is constantly blurred in this story.

Michael Ondaatje has created a beautiful story showing the lives, loves and relationships of some of the thousands of people who helped create Canada’s most populous city. He reminds us that love and our relationships with the people in our lives have profound impacts on who we are and what we do, whether they be for better or for worse.