Identity Crisis in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

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The aim of this paper is to analyze identity crisis in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient from a postcolonial perspective through the concept of nationalism and national identity, emphasizing cultural, psychological and physical displacement due to colonization, travelling, exploration and space / place (cartography), referring to the theories and views of Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabba, Franz Fanon, Edward Said, and so on. The paper will mainly focus on the erasure of the national identities and selves of a group of European explorers, scientists and spies, including the colonized Kip, an Indian, serving as a bomb defuser in the British Army. Even though these scientists’ mission is to map the desert, they can hardly achieve it. The desert is uncontrollable and unreliable because of sand storms. Its surface changes rapidly and one can be lost forever. In other words, the desert is the metaphor of their unreliable national identities that are fragmented and varied because of their traumatic personal experiences in this alien landscape and culture. The paper will emphasize the fragility of identities and selves even for those who represent European civilization and Imperial Rule as hegemonic powers together with the colonized Kip who is shaped by these powers as a hybrid identity.
english language and literature