The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Start Your Free Trial

How can I compare and contrast the characters of Hana the Canadian nurse and Katharine Clifton from the novel, The English Patient

Expert Answers info

bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,334 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Katharine is on her honeymoon when she meets and starts her affair with Almasy. She loves the desert, perhaps feeling it is an exotic setting where she can have an illicit love affair, defying what is proper and improper. She is the one who initiates the affair which is often violent. She breaks it off because she feels guilty and can't take the pressure of trying to keep it hidden from her husband. Her husband, Geoffrey, is an Englishman of high social standing. He's good-natured and worships his wife, bragging on her beauty to everyone. We later learn that Geoffrey is a spy for the English government sent to watch the group of desert explorers.

What does this say about Katharine? The fact that Geoffrey worships her may be too much for her to take. She doesn't wish to be a "trophy wife", so when she meets Almasy, he represents the opposite of her husband. Almasy insists that their affair does not mean that he wants a committed relationship, even though the opposite is true. He doesn't put Katharine on a pedestal to be admired for her great beauty. Perhaps this is why their...

(The entire section contains 592 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial