Marriage is symbolic of love, hope, and better health insurance. But it's the "hope" part that's key in a time of war. If people gave up hope, the world would be damaged forever.
Some characters in The English Patient see love as something romantic. Others see it as more of a suggestion of fidelity, not a binding contract. And these characters meet different fates: Hana and Kip retain hope, and Almásy and Katharine die horrible deaths.
We just want to say, that if Almásy and Katharine got married they would have the grimmest marriage vows: "I, Almásy, take you, Katharine, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until starving to death in a cave and a fiery plane crash do us part."
Questions About Marriage
Almásy has an issue with "ownership." Is being married the same as being owned? Is that why he's never been married?
Why did Katharine marry Geoffrey? Did she make a mistake in marrying him?
What does Katharine mean when she says she is a "different wife" with Almásy?
Chew on This
The English Patient is a film that takes marriage very seriously. Any character that is an adulterer meets a grim fate.
Hana is one of the only characters with a romantic view of marriage. Almásy disdains it. Katharine seems to have married Geoffrey out of convenience and companionship. But Hana sees romance in marriage.