The English Patient Questions and Answers
by Michael Ondaatje

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How does The English Patient complicate or reinforce the idea of nationhood or national identity?

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Beginning with the identity of the titular “English patient,” Michael Ondaatje ’s novel challenges the solidity of national identity. This patient—badly burned and wrapped in bandages—is not actually English, but Hungarian. In the Italian makeshift hospital set up during World War II, people of numerous nationalities are thrown together by the war, but their motivations and actions are only partly determined by their nationality. One of the Canadian characters is of French heritage, and the other is of Italian...

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