November 7, 2013
Ondaatje’s Correlation Between the Passage from Darkness to Light and Isolation to Empowerment
In the book In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje, the reader discovers different themes that imply certain denunciations. One of the aims of this book being published is to expose the hard life of the workers who have been ignored and exploited from the dominant class. Ondaatje tells their story through Patrick’s life experiences, a worker who used to be ignored, but now has the willpower to speak up about their difficult conditions. The author’s wish to share the workers’ hard life is a way to show the gap between the wealthy and the poor, another theme explored in the book. In fact, the rich ones have all the power and thus exploit the workers and ignore their existence. In order to expose this discrimination, Ondaatje uses images of darkness and light as passage from isolation and ignorance through empowerment and knowledge. As Sarris said in his article, “The imagery of darkness also plays a central role within the novel's theme of isolation” (2001).
In this essay, I will firstly focus on how Patrick’s knowledge shaped him throughout his life and helped him pass through loneliness to empowerment. I will, in the second part, analyze the connection between him and the workers and how he liberated them from ignorance and darkness, and brought them to feel acknowledged.
We are aware from the beginning of the book Patrick’s reaction regarding the outside world. In fact, he does not feel as a part of it, unnoticed from the community. Patrick Lewis is described as someone who observed more than anything. He watches other worker, including is father, Hazen, who has never been very expressive concerning his emotions. While he is observing the loggers and farmers crossing the town to go to work, his house is in dark; the lights are off. We understand Ondaatje is implying that the loggers are in the...