In the Skin of Loin

The storyteller has a significant role to play. Would you not agree? Would you agree that in the right hands stories can be enriched and empowered, the storyteller can bring light to the issues and lives of the stories of individual’s. Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin of A Lion refracts the intertwined, ‘wonderous web’ of many individual, human experiences, all threaded together by the central protagonist Patrick. Through Patrick, Ondaatje acknowledges the importance of the storyteller as he invites empathy and understanding into the many mini-narratives within the story endowing them with a myriad of emotion. We can see that he expresses the importance of these mini-narratives, these individual stories which essentially capture the chaotic experiences, reflecting the true human condition.  

In the epigraph, Ondaatje’s disjointed yet chaotically functional novel manifests “Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one”. So before the novel even starts, instantly our attention is drawn to the fact that this narrative exposes several personal stories. Moreover, in the prologue, Ondaatje’s narratological device accounts for the story within a story structure: “the man…picks up and brings together the various corners of the story”. The man, the yet unnamed Patrick, is metaphorically represented as the storyteller, collecting the memories of the elliptical story. But it is important to remember everyone that the facilitator of the tapestry of stories within the novel is –ultimately- Ondaatje, he is the omniscient author, he controls Patrick’s narration; he knits the paths of the characters together. But it is through Patrick’s role as storyteller that the myriad of life experiences are rebuilt out of the chaos and darkness, with order and light.

Patrick lived a lonely, isolated childhood in which he “Absorbed everything from a distance”, and he was merely a “prism that refracted their lives.” Eloquently the metaphor symbolises how it is...