Study Guide

The English Patient Memories and the Past

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Memories and the Past

War is something most people want to forget. But if we forget the past, we are doomed to relive it. (Who said that? Winston Churchill? PewDiePie? We forget.) So despite how terrible war is—maybe someone was burned alive, or had a best friend killed by a land mine—we have to remember it.

One of the best ways to remember a war is to talk to the people who lived through it. But memories disappear when the people who hold the memories pass away. Almásy has memories of the world before the war to share, but Hana will have memories of the war itself.

Questions About Memories and the Past

  1. Do you think Almásy has amnesia, or is he trying to forget certain things? What does he want to forget, and what does he want to remember?
  2. What helps to jog Almásy's memory?
  3. Which other characters care about Almásy's past, and why?

Chew on This

It's appropriate that Almásy stores scraps of his memory inside the Herodotus book, because it's a history book and it becomes part of Almásy's personal history.

All the characters are haunted by loss in their past, but they deal with it in different ways. Almásy wants to forget. Hana tries to move on. And Caravaggio wants revenge.

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