In the Skin of a Lion

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Canada has been credited by the United Nations for being the most multicultural nation for over forty five years. People have been migrating from all over the world to “the New World” due to economic struggles, wartime affairs or simply a chance for a new beginning. Various works of literature and media representations have been made to retell, relate and reflect upon the difficult journeys made by these immigrants. The novel, In the Skin of A Lion, by Canadian immigrant and author Michael Ondaatje, has been noted to be, “...the best story of the Macedonian voice in the building of Toronto’s Waterworks.” (Brouhl, 159. SIC) Ondaatje has successfully dramatized the immigrant experience that defines Canada’s multicultural history, particularly in Toronto, as seen not only through the storyline of Patrick Lewis, the heroic endeavors and traditional lifestyle by Nicholas Temelcoff, but also, through the life of Alice Gull.

“Michael Ondaatje’s use of historically accurate events are considered by many of us writers, second to none” (David, 1), appraising In the Skin of a Lion, to be one of the best novels in terms of it’s textual credibility. The novel unfolds with the protagonist, Patrick Lewis who was a young boy that lived with his father on a farm, in Macedonia. After suffering from economic hardships, the Lewis family immigrated to Abashed, Ontario in 1919, hoping for a fresh start to life. Unfortunately, Mrs. Lewis died on the voyage over, and his dad became inclined to work for a logging company, as an explosives operator, blowing log jams out of rivers throughout the valleys of Alberta. After the passing of Mr. Lewis, Patrick decided to take a train along with several other immigrants with, “no specific course for his life and just began to wander in Toronto, among the city's working class like a European exploring the Amazon jungle.”(David, 1) Going along with the ‘norm’ of the time, Patrick’s new destination was a result of his emotional instability...
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