Reading Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion (Essay Sample)
Essay (exercise in close reading)
The essay is to deal with an aspect of Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion. Choose one of the thesis statements below.
• Crucial aspects of Patrick Lewis' identity are connected to physical darkness.
• To Patrick Lewis dynamite is connected both to the past and to the present, and represents both a way to make a living and death.
• Pets and other kept animals in In the Skin of a Lion are important in fostering personal and/or group identities for many of the characters.
• To be part of the “mural” of other peoples' lives characterises Patrick Lewis.
• Scents are used as markers of identification in In the Skin of a Lion.
• The theatre serves as a metaphor for constructing an identity in In the Skin of a Lion.
The PDF compendium "Writing Skills: Literature" contains detailed information about the basic structure of an essay, how to develop an analysis around a thesis statement, how to create transitions, how to cite sources and how to achieve an appropriate style. It is absolutely essential that you read through this document before writing your essay, even if some of the points are summarised here!
A thesis statement clearly shows the reader what you will do in your essay, what the main argument is, and it also keeps you ‘on the right track'. By continuously going back to the thesis statement you can make sure that you do not stray from the topic.
Once you have chosen one of the thesis statements above, your task is to:
Create three sub-arguments which support your main argument (i.e. thesis statement).
o Each sub-argument should be developed in a separate paragraph (or at most two).
o In each paragraph you should present your sub-argument (like a mini-thesis statement) first in a topic sentence (this is simply the first sentence in the paragraph). In the rest of the paragraph, provide a discussion where you analyze a situation, scene, instance, etc. from the selected text to show how it supports your sub-argument. (This means that you need to have three situations, instances, scenes, passages, etc. from the text in total—one for each sub-argument).
o It is expected that at least some of your evidence is presented in the form of quotations from the text (formatted and cited correctly).
o Remember that you should not rely on the evidence from the text to make your argument for you; it is very important that you analyze the evidence carefully after you have presented it. Examples of things you may want to pay attention to in your analysis would be striking details and connections, the choice of words, or the imagery.
Write a concluding paragraph in which you summarize your arguments and provide closure for the essay.
Strive for a smoothly flowing essay; incorporate quotations in your discussion, and try to create good transitions between different parts of your analysis.
As with most written assignments the essay should follow the basic pattern of introduction, discussion, conclusion. Remember that the main part of the essay should consist of the discussion/analysis, and you should also keep summaries and descriptions to a minimum. Your task is not to quote the plot, but to show how your selected paragraphs support your claim. Move from description to analysis.
A few things concerning writing
• Do not retell the story.
• Structure your text according to what you want to say.
• Use relevant episodes and quotations from the text to strengthen your argument. Do not state that you "feel" that, for example, Patrick Lewis is a homicial maniac. Show where in the novel this is made clear.
• Give a page reference when you quote.
• Before you send in your work, make sure that your essay
is written in formal English
IN THE SKIN OF A LION BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE
Scents are used as markers of identification in the novel
One of the human senses is the smell, and it has been a playing a critical role to human survival. Over the course of human existence, humans have used smell to mark and distinguish various components in their immediate environment. In the novel In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje has used the sense of smell to describe the environment and setting of the novel. The sense of smell is also used by some characters in the novel to positively identify objects and people and prompt their appropriate action. In this essay, a critical evaluation of how the author has used scents to mark and identify people and objects in the novel is described in detail to show how the sense of smell has been used as a mark of identification.
Patrick Lewis positively distinguishes kerosene’s metallic smell while waiting for Clara. He notices drops falling on him like rain though they had a peculiar smell to Lewis and he figured out it was kerosene. Kerosene drops are more like water drops in texture and viscosity and the night the only distinguishable property “Lewis could rely on smell. He notices a metal smell. He moves his eyes above the ledge of the window and simultaneously knows it has nothing to do with rain. He smells and feels kerosene pour across his shoulders…” The odor of the liquid pouring on his head made him make a rational decision to run for his life but not before Ambrose lit a match that made him catch fire. He managed to save himself though he suffered some burns, he lived to see another day. If he had not used his smelling senses, he could have suffered more severe burns with fatal effects.
The accuracy of identifying the liquid that hit on his head like raindrops were founded on his knowledge and experience with kerosene as a flammable and flammable liquid. His correct identification also meant survival for him since he made the right decision to dive into the lake. He understood that fire or kerosene effects could only be canceled out by cold water and removing some of his clothes to reduce the amount of kerosene on him. If he hadn’t come across kerosene before and understood its effects and properties, the incident could have led to more devastating results. Accurate identification of the liquid pouring on his head in the night was only possible through smell. Through smell, he correctly identified and analyzed a potentially fatal situation and successfully managed to make a ra...
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