The English Patient Topics for Further Study
by Michael Ondaatje

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

  • The film version of The English Patient has several differences from the original novel. Watch the film after reading the novel. Compare and contrast the differences in the plot and the characters. Why do you think these changes were made and how do they change the overall story? Take a chapter or event from the book that was not in the film, and write a scene for it. How would you have fit this scene into the film?
  • At the end of the novel, Hana writes a letter to her stepmother, Clara, and discusses in detail the death of her father, Patrick. This letter signifies an emotional healing on Clara's part because she had previously been unwilling to acknowledge his death. Kip and Caravaggio, also, have been emotionally wounded by the events of the war. Do you think that, like Hana, either of them achieved a sense of healing by the end of the book? Write a letter, in the voice of either Caravaggio or Kip, that reflects what you believe their state of mind is by the end of the novel.
  • Kip's brother is jailed in India for refusing to join the British army. At this time, India is a colony of Great Britain. India would gain independence only two years after the end of WWII, in 1947. Kip's brother is a protestor against the British presence in India. Write a research report on the independence movement in India. Who were the key figures? How is the British influence still seen in India today? What has been the impact of Indian culture on the British?
  • The English Patient is actually a sequel to an earlier novel, In the Skin of a Lion, which takes place in Canada and includes the characters of Hana and Caravaggio. Read In the Skin of a Lion. What are the thematic elements in the earlier novel that carry over to The...

(The entire section is 475 words.)