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The Consequences Of War Essay

1738 words - 7 pages

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers” (José Narosky). Narosky touches an important consequence of war that is viewed in the novel, The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. The story takes place during World War II in an abandoned Italian Villa habited by only four characters of different nationality, two Canadians, an Indian and a Hungarian. These characters learn about each other, ultimately leading them to discover themselves and reveal issues that the war caused them. The dehumanizing effects of war, in The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, reveals uncomfortable and disturbing truths about how Hana, Kip and Caravaggio perceive the world around them as well as themselves.
Events from the war created dehumanizing effects on Hana, thus forcing her to dramatically change mentally and physically to become a new person; who is withdrawn from the world. Working as a nurse in World War II exposed Hana to unforgiving situations. She had experienced death everyday including the death of her loved ones. These harsh experiences lead Hana to detach herself from the world around her. This is demonstrated when Hana cut off her hair because she was disgusted at the fact that it had fallen in a pool of a patient’s blood the day before. The removal of her hair is described as, “When she woke, she picked up a pair of scissors out of the porcelain bowl, leaned over and began to cut her hair, not concerned with shape of length, just cutting it away” (49). This represents both the physical and symbolic changes in Hana. By removing her long hair, this changed the way Hana was perceived by the world. She no longer had her long beautiful hair; instead she then had short, uneven hair. In our world today, we see people with rough haircuts as underclass or damaged. For example, that description is often the image of a drug addict. Therefore, Hana visually transforms from a happy, normal class girl to a lower class, damaged woman. Further, Hana’s removal of her hair symbolically represents her losing her innocence; transforming from a little girl to a woman. The events that Hana had experienced in the war, like the death of her father, her lover, her child and the many lives of soldiers lost that forced Hana to lose herself. David Caravaggio, a family friend notices this change in Hana on her birthday when he hears her sing a particular song that she used to sing when she was little. He noticed a certain change in the way she sang the song, he described it as, “Not with the passion of her at sixteen but echoing the tentative circle of light around her in the darkness. She was singing it as if it was something scarred, as if one couldn’t ever again bring all the hope of the song together” (269). Caravaggio’s notice in the change of the way Hana sang linked directly to how Hana’s personality changed. Ultimately, the song represents Hana’s life. Before the war – at sixteen – Hana was a youthful, passionate and hopeful girl. The war exposed Hana to the harshness of...

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