Study Guide

The English Patient Identity

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The English Patient is packed with characters from all over the world—Canada, India, England—and some, like Almásy, don't want to be identified by their national identity.

For a good portion of The English Patient, Almásy is He Who Shall Not be Named, (which is fitting, seeing that the actor would go on to play Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise). But although Almásy wants to hide his identity, many other characters are looking to reclaim theirs: for example, Kip wants India out from under British rule.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why does Almásy not want to be associated with any particular nation? What are the consequences of his desire to remain unidentified?
  2. Physical changes aside, how has Almásy changed after the war?
  3. An Indian, Kip doesn't really like the British. What does he like about Almásy and Hardy?

Chew on This

Many people have identities as spies during the war, like Caravaggio and Geoffrey, but they are not viewed in a negative light because they worked for the Allies. Someone's identity as a "good" or "bad" guy depends on your allegiance.

It's easy for Almásy to disguise his identity when he's burned beyond recognition. That's what he always wanted, so being burned is kind of a blessing in that sense.

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