Historical fiction


The narrator is omniscient, and conveys the points of view of several different characters


Almasy, the English patient


World War II; the war disrupts the lives of all the characters and makes it impossible for Almasy to continue his love affair with Katharine

Point Of View

The point of view is generally third-person omniscient, except several times when the English patient begins to tell stories about his past in the first person


Reflective and poetic, as each of the characters' memories are revealed complete with their thoughts and personal connections


Present tense when Ondaatje writes about live and events in the Italian villa; past tense when one of the characters is flashing back to a previous memory or event


Almasy draws his arm across Katharine's neck, a foreshadowing of their violent and passionate love affair; Kip's emotional distance, which prefigures his desertion of Hana at the end of the novel


Kip threatens to kill Almásy, the English patient, after he hears the news that the United States has dropped atomic bombs on Japan.

Falling Action

Kip's desertion of the villa on his motorbike without saying goodbye to Hana, Almasy, or Caravaggio; Kip's thoughts of Hana while having dinner with his new family in India years later