Post Colonialism in Skin of a Lion
Eng Seminar Post-colonialism – is an academic discipline that comprises methods of intellectual discourse that present analyses of, and responses to, the cultural legacies of colonialism and of imperialism, which draw from different post-modern schools of thought. Post-colonial Literature – addresses the problems and consequences of the de-colonization of a country and of a nation. The characters of his novels are mainly among the immigrants, the colonized, and the oppressed that are suffering from the loss of true self and identity.
Therefore, it is demonstrated that colonialism will continue its banal effects on individual’s lives and identities by entangling them in an unhealthy state of mind like double consciousness. In the novel, In the Skin of a Lion, Patrick who is the main character finds himself an outsider in the society and tries to measure himself through the other’s look ————————————————- Top of Form Bottom of Form Postcolonial criticism, like postmodern criticism, rejects the universal and large scale in preference for the local and specific.
In In the Skin of a Lion Ondaatje challenges the dominant narratives and gives a voice to the untold stories of the colonized. Ashcroft et al in Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies define post colonialism as dealing with “the effects of colonization on cultures and societies” (p. 186) and post colonial reading as “a way of reading and rereading texts… to draw deliberate attention to the profound and inescapable effects of colonization on literary production; anthropological accounts; historical records; administrative and scientific writing” (p. 92). A postcolonial reading also rejects the universalism inherent in the liberal humanist readings of traditional criticism in favour of an acceptance of issues of cultural difference in literary texts. Culture itself is seen as a web of conflicting discourses. Thus it champions a celebration of hybridity and encourages a writing back from the margin or periphery to the centre. Canada has a history of resistance to colonialism.
If you are applying a postcolonial reading then you should examine the novel for what it says about the dominant political and economic structures and how these serve the interests of the dominant class. Of course this leads us into a Marxist reading of the novel which would focus on the conflict of class interest and the oppression of the working classes. Marxist critics would say that all texts must be read in relation to the society in which they were composed and because writing is a political act criticism should be political as well. Patrick sat on a bench and watched the tides of movement, felt the reverberations of trade. He spoke out his name and it struggled up in a hollow echo and was lost in the high air of Union Station. No one turned. They were in the belly of the whale” (54) “The form of a city changes faster than the human heart” (109) “The southeastern section of the city where he now lived was made up mostly of immigrants and he walked everywhere not hearing any language he knew, deliriously anonymous. The people of the street, the Macedonians and Bulgarians, were his only mirror.
He worked in the tunnels with them” (112) Temelcoff is a navy: “a man is an extension of hammer, drill, flame” (Ondaatje 26) Nicholas Temelcoff is famous on the bridge, a daredevil. He is given all the difficult jobs and he takes them. He descends into the air with no fear. He is a solitary. He assembles ropes, brushes the tackle and pulley at his waist, and falls off the bridge like a diver over the edge of a boat. The rope roars alongside him, slowing with the pressure of his half-gloved hands.
He is burly on the ground and then falls with terrific speed, grace, using the wind to push himself into corners of abutments so he can check driven rivets, sheering valves, the drying of the concrete under bearing plates and pad stones. (34) “I will tell you about the rich,” Alice would say, “the rich are always laughing. They keep on saying the same things on their boats and lawns: Isn’t this grand! We’re having a good time! And whenever the rich get drunk and maudlin about humanity you have to listen for hours. But they keep you in the tunnels and stockyards. They do not toil or spin. Remember that. ” (132)