The limited character in Michael Ondaatjes novel, The English Patient, was Almsy. Almsy was a man who was burned from head to toe, and whose identity is unrecognizable thus making him a limited character. The novel takes place in a villa where the man was being taken care of by Hana, a young nurse who stayed behind to take care of Almsy while the rest of the nurses escaped to a safer place to stay. She calls him the English patient because of his accent, though she is unaware of where he is from. The entire novel is focused on the history of the English patient, where he tells the story of his past to Hana, Caravaggio, and Kip. Although in the present Almsy is a limited character, the novel is based on the constant flashbacks of his terrible past where he is a normal man struggling for his true love thus leading him to his present state.
The novel beings with Hana, the nurse, who is outside the villa gardening in Italy in year 1945. There was a European war and the Germans retreated but they left many hidden bombs all around. All the nurses left the villa to live at a safer place, but Hana feels a connection to the English patient, who was first explained to be a man found burned from an airplane crash. As she took care of him, he begun telling her about the Bedouin tribe, which were the people who first found him and took care of him. One day, a man by the name of Caravaggio, an old family friend to Hanas father, Patrick. A soldier named Kip arrived because he heard Hana playing the piano. Kip ended up staying with Hana, Caravaggio, and the English patient. Slowly, Hana and Kip fell in love with each other. This was where all three of them learn about the English patients past. Until the beginning of the World War II, the English patient explored the North African desert and became an In the year 1936 he met a man named Geoffrey Clifton and his wife Katherine Clifton who both joined him in his exploration of the desert. He slowly begins and affair with Katherine and falls deeply In love with her. The affair ends within two years, and Geoffrey finds out about it. One day, the English patient asked Geoffrey to pick him up with his private plane. Geoffrey took Katherine with him. It had been planned as a suicide- murder by her husband that would involve all three of us. (Page 171) He crashed the plane, only trying to aim for the English patient who was waiting on the ground. He killed himself, and deeply injured Katherine. The English patient took her in a cave where he promised her he would be back. He gets caught by the English Army who thought he is a spy, and is thrown in jail. When he is released, he began working for the German and helped their spies get to Cairo. When he leaves Cairo he finds the cave where he had left Katherine and he puts her dead body in a old plane buried under the sand. While flying the plane, it breaks down and he saves himself by using a parachute, although he was burning. This is when the Bedouins find him all burnt. Back to the present, Kip hears that America has bombed Japan, and he blames the English patient and threatens to kill him. He takes a motorcycle and drives off and never returns. Years later, Kip is married and became a doctor in India and wondered about his old love, Hana.
Chapter nine is where the English patients name is established. Almsy. He was truly a Hungarian, thus showing the irony of the title. Hana called him the English patient throughout the novel, because she thought his accent was English. Almsy was a limited character due to the fact that he went through emotional and physical pain to keep the one he loved, and it led him to his present condition. He was burned so badly that his face is unrecognizable. This condition made him live his life in misery due to Katherines death. Not only is in physical pain for the rest of his life, but he is also in emotional pain because he left the girl he loved to die in a cave. He is limited to living a normal life, because his mistake of having this affair brought him to continue his life in agony. He is also limited because he can never forget his past because of his physical appearance.
This book is recommended to all of those who are interested in a fictional love story dating back to World War II. Those who have seen the movie and enjoyed the story, will enjoy this book as well. Michael Ondaatje is an outstanding author and the way he ties in the English patient with the entire store is extremely fascinating. Although he switches from present the past constantly, the reader is still aware of what is occurring. The way he descriptively explained the body, and other aspects of the novel is what caught my attention. For example, he writes As he lay under the table, the blood from his hands fell into his face, and he suddenly thought clearly and slipped the handcuff off the table leg, flinging the chair away to drown out the pain an then leaning to the left to step out of the other cuff. (page 59) This entire sentence was so descriptive that I could actually understand the difficult position he was in. He can help the reader actually feel what the English patient was feeling, and this is why I would recommend this novel.