The Importance of the Bloor Street Viaduct as a Setting in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

The Importance of the Bloor Street Viaduct as a Setting in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

Length: 1176 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Bloor Street Viaduct is a landmark bridge linking the eastern part of Toronto with the downtown core. Completed in 1919, the controversial bridge spans 490 meters across and 40 meters in the air above the Don River valley. (Carr 165-166)Designed by Edmund Burke and pushed through by public works commissioner Rowland Harris, the bridge plays a central role in the history of Toronto and in the Michael Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a Lion. The description of constructing the bridge in the second chapter of book one introduces the reader to several important characters and themes that carry throughout the narrative but whose importance and connection are not fully realized until much later in the novel. Ondaatje seeks to focus the reader’s attention on the stories that take place behind the written history of the city. The Bloor Street Viaduct is a central part of the city’s history both written and unwritten. In his fictional narrative, Ondaatje links real and created characters to paint a picture of life for working class immigrants in Toronto in the 1920’s and 30’s.
In a moment of self reflexivity Ondaatje reveals part of his own experience with history through Patrick. “The articles and Illustrations he found in the Riverdale Library depicted every detail about the soil, the wood, the weight of the concrete, everything but information on those who actually built the bridge.” (Ondaatje 145) This statement is strikingly similar to comments made by Michael Ondaatje in an interview regarding his novel. “…I can tell you exactly how many buckets of sand were used, because this is Toronto history, but the people who actually built the goddamn bridge were unspoken of. They’re unhistorical!”(qtd. In Sarris 186) Powerful scenes thr...


... middle of paper ...


...he city of Toronto recently had a barrier built to deter jumpers. Dereck Revington, the architect responsible for the addition to Edmund Burke’s bridge found inspiration in Ondaatje’s novel. “‘The character of Temelcoff became a kind of icon for me, the way he scoops the black bird out of the sky,’ Revington said, ‘A barrier needs the same kind of elegance and grace as Temelcoff’” (Elve)
The Bloor Street Viaduct acts as a catalyst in Michael Ondaatje’s revision of Toronto’s civic history to weave together the stories of those responsible for building the city, rather the “functionaries and their visions” who ordered the city built. (Gamlin 68) “One of the principal objectives-and successes- of the novel is to ‘betray official history’ and reveal, however faintly, the presence of the human element in such Toronto landmarks as the Bloor Street Viaduct.” (Sarris 188)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Becoming The Third Dimension: Cubism In In The Skin Of A Lion

- Becoming the Third Dimension Images splatter against the viewer's face like a moth on the windshield when gazing at the pigmented speckles dappled along the textured canvas hanging on the wall in the local gallery. Examining the seemingly incomplete picture before them, the viewer may inquire as to the perception of the painted figure from various angles as opposed to the solitary linear image presented by the artist. Mona Lisa's intriguing smile may birth more questions if the art critic could view it from a profile, or the back of her head, or even from the underside of the canvas as a whole....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Free Essays
1837 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about The Skin Of A Lion By Michael Ondaatje

- What makes us who we are. Is this the real us. Questions such as these seem odd, but the idea of there being a person’s true identity, is obvious. In today’s modern day society a person’s identity is based on how the person looks or where they come from, gender, race, and class. There are many things in our culture around us which sort of reinforce the idea of us having a unique identity. Identity is more about the collections of personal experiences and the changes that they bring rather than it being about judging people by their gender, race and class....   [tags: Novel, Fiction, Character, In the Skin of a Lion]

Strong Essays
1419 words (4.1 pages)

Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion Essay

- "Any critical reading of a text will be strengthened by a knowledge of how a text is valued by readers in differing contexts." Discuss this statement and show how your critical understanding of the text has been strengthened by at least two different readings. Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion is a text that is given new meaning when viewed from differing perspectives. Readers approach the text with their own unique past and experience, which influences their perception and interpretation of the novel....   [tags: Ondaatje Skin Lion Context]

Free Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

- “In the Skin of a Lion,” by Michael Ondaatje In the novel, “In the Skin of a Lion,” by Michael Ondaatje, the main character, Patrick Lewis, searches for identity and light. Without these elements, he lacks love and cannot survive the world. A passage in chapter three describes him as a lonely man that is isolated from the world around him. “Clara and Ambrose and Alice and Temelcoff and Cato- this cluster made up a drama without him. And he himself was noting but a prism that refracted their lives....   [tags: Skin Lion Michael Ondaatje Essays]

Strong Essays
1025 words (2.9 pages)

In the Skin of a Lion Essay

- In the Skin of a Lion Historical Obliviousness in Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion narrates the forgotten stories of those who contributed to the building of the city Toronto, particularly immigrants and marginal individuals. In the very first page of the novel, Ondaatje stresses the concern with personal narratives and the act of storytelling: "This is the story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning [...] She listens to the man as he picks up and brings together various corners of the story..." (4)....   [tags: essays papers]

Strong Essays
995 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about The Skin Of A Lion By Michael Ondaatje

- What makes us who we are. Is this the real you. Questions such as these seem odd. Identity in today’s modern day society a person’s identity is based on how the person looks or where they come from, gender, race, and class. In the novel, In the Skin of a Lion written in the year 1987, Michael Ondaatje uses a variety of different themes such as the power of language, the immigrant experience, search for identity and many others to make the novel interesting. Along with these interesting themes Ondaatje makes it more interesting with the novel’s non-chronological order....   [tags: Novel, Fiction, Character, English-language films]

Strong Essays
1335 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje

- In The Skin of a Lion is a novel depicting the constant hardships which the main characters undergo throughout their lives. It focuses on the relationships among the immigrant groups as they make up the majority of Toronto's population. Moreover, all through the novel the idea of immigration is prevalent. The setting changes - from one place to another, as Patrick moves from the countryside to the city and as Temelcoff moves from Macedonia to Canada. Personal views change as Alice undergoes a transformation from being a nun to an actress and as Caravaggio becomes a thief....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Immigration, Society Acceptance]

Strong Essays
1129 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on In The Skin Of A Lion

- Canada has been credited by the United Nations for being the most multicultural nation for over forty five years. People have been migrating from all over the world to “the New World” due to economic struggles, wartime affairs or simply a chance for a new beginning. Various works of literature and media representations have been made to retell, relate and reflect upon the difficult journeys made by these immigrants. The novel, In the Skin of A Lion, by Canadian immigrant and author Michael Ondaatje, has been noted to be, “...the best story of the Macedonian voice in the building of Toronto’s Waterworks.” (Brouhl, 159....   [tags: Michael Ondaatje Immigration Book Review Analysis]

Free Essays
1411 words (4 pages)

In The Skin Of A Lion Essay

- When studying a novel it sometimes helps to look at the language used in a specific passage. In the novel In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje, this approach is extremely helpful. It will help you better understand the characters and give you a clearer idea of what the author is trying to say. Within the novel, the passage entitled “The Skating Scene,'; where Patrick observes the loggers skating late at night, is stylistically interesting. By looking at metaphors, symbolism and diction, we can gain a better understanding of the characters and make connections within the scene and then to the novel as a whole....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
1090 words (3.1 pages)

Skin Cancer Essay

- Gone are the days when people sent children outside to play to get a little color in their cheeks. They know too much about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and the threat of skin cancer. Or do they. Despite the fact that 58% of parents remembered hearing about the importance of protecting their children from the sun, children are still playing in the sun without sunscreen or protective clothing (3., p 1). Sunburn is the most preventable risk factor of skin cancer. Skin type and family history cannot be changed....   [tags: Skin Cancer Essays]

Free Essays
1696 words (4.8 pages)