Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 211
Warlight follows 28 year old Nathaniel in his reflection on his adolescence. We can piece together an image of a lost childhood as he revisits memories associated with his youth. The beginning of the novel offers a sentimental look at a parent-less upbringing in postwar London, 1945. This is before Nathaniel is initiated into secret societies by the Moth, one of his caregivers. At an early age of 14, Nathaniels' vision of the world is that of vast adult conspiracy, creating a withdrawn and shut in 20 year old in the second half of the novel. The death of Nathaniel's mother, Rose, a secret agent, further adds to his complicated history. We get an image of children who are dealing with the abandonment and secrecy left, mainly, by their mother. As Nathaniel pieces together a fragmented past in the second half of the novel at the age of 20, he uncovers a larger history built on revenge and betrayal. The author, Ondaatje, conjures up powerful images that elicit a familiar force or truth throughout the novel. Ondaatje writes of vivid memories as a medium of visual metaphors. His novel about storytelling from Nathaniel's perspective isn't one that is of sober observation but of vivid memories lit by brilliant light in an otherwise dark time during war.