The English Patient By Michael Ondaatje Essay

The English Patient By Michael Ondaatje Essay

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Hana is one of the main characters in Michael Ondaatje’s book The English Patient. Hana is a twenty year old Canadian woman who serves as a nurse in World War II. She spends most of her time alone, scared to love, scared to let someone in, because she knows that the moment she does then she is vulnerable. Leaving her to feel subjected to a life of misery because she knows that every good thing must come to an end. Hana takes her every step not caring whether she lives or dies, as if she has nothing to gain or lose. Living life as if she is a piece of trash waiting to be thrown away. It is her grief, love, and fear that keeps her from moving on in life, taking the one thing she needs the most away from her, her sanity.
First off, Hana’s grief for her father has a big impact on the way she acts throughout the story. Hana writes to Clara saying “He was a burned man and I was a nurse and I could have nursed him” (296). The fact that Hana was not able to be there with her father during his last breaths kills her. She feels as though it is her job to take care of him. That if she was there then should could have saved him. But even if she could not save him, she would want to talk to him and let him know how much she loves and admires him. Marcela Parra says “Hana also deals with the absence of her father’s presence and attempts to replace him with other men” (66). She thinks that by having relations with others, she can relieve herself from the stress and the pain that she is feeling. That even if it is just for a second, she can find a way to cope with the problems she finds are hard to deal with. Not only does she have grief for her father but she grieves her unborn baby too. Hana replies “I lost the child. I mean I had to lose it....


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... words, and depressed. Mark Wallace expresses “Hana is physiologically wounded by what she has seen in war. Because of this, she feels she must relate everything back to death” (217). Waking up day after day and seeing people die one after another has a strong hold on her. Thinking that she is cursed because everyone that comes around her dies. In the back of Hana’s mind all that she can think of is who is next. Who else is going to die because they have felt her presence?
In conclusion, caring for someone is a difficult process for Hana and because of previous experiences of getting hurt she perceives this is not a safe emotion for her. Hana also feels she is responsible for things that she has no control over, leaving her to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Hana needs to realize that death is inevitable and without some type of feeling or emotion she is already dead.

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