Michael Ondaatje starts the reader off in a villa in Italy towards the end of World War II. This villa, Villa San Girolamo (7), gives the reader the main of the scene of the rest of the book. The villa gives a very intriguing scene for the story to take place in. The entire building is tattered and damaged by bombshells that it had received during battles against the Germans before the villa was taken by the allies and turned into a war hospital.
“Some rooms could not be entered because of rubble. One bomb crater allowed moon and rain into the library downstairs – where there was in one corner a permanently soaked armchair. ”(8)
Later, the field hospital was deserted for all except the English Patient and Hana. Just regarding the villa Ondaatje introduces to the reader a main theme that is explored later in the novel. This theme shows that the villa itself serves as a comparison toward the people who are living there. Each and every person who is taking refuge or will take refuge there is tattered and torn by the war just like the villa had. However through the telling of the story each person gets a little better and will have healed a little from the war, just like the villa with its removing of bombs and ruminates of...
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...tient might be. Yet Michael also uses this shrouded character to let those of the villa recreate for themselves who he actually is. The English Patient serves as a blank slate that each character that interacts with him can recreate in their mind of who the English Patient might be.
When crafting the first chapter of The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje knew what he was doing right from the get go. He formulated every sentence to be perfected for the constructing of the rest of the story. Each subtle action points towards a greater theme that is presented in many other parts of the novel. Starting with the setting continuing onto the characters and finally ending with the themes, The Villa sets up The English patient to be a successful and incredible novel.
Ondaatje, Michael. The English Patient: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.
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