Hana decides to play the old piano in the library. Outside, it is pouring rain, and two soldiers slip into the library, at first unnoticed by Hana. With their guns, they come up to the piano and listen to her play. When Caravaggio returns, he finds Hana and the soldiers making sandwiches together in the kitchen.


One major theme of The English Patient is the way the war transforms the individuals who are involved in it. All the characters that have been introduced thus far have been entirely altered by the war. Caravaggio, a former thief, has lost not only his thumbs, but also much of his youth and his identity. He can no longer steal, nor can he live any kind of happy life. He finds himself envious of those "whole" men he sees, men who can live independently and without pity. The English patient has likewise been visibly transformed by the war. Having literally lost his entire identity, he is alive only to reflect on the life he once had. Hana, too, has been irrevocably altered by her wartime experience. After having a near-breakdown, Hana stands on the cusp of adulthood, unsure whether to take charge of her life or to hide and look for shelter like a child. She chooses to postpone her decision, remaining in a villa and caring for a burned man. The war has taken a piece of each character's identity, replacing it with a scar that each now bears.

An important and recurring symbol in the novel is the Italian villa in which Hana and the English patient live. Ondaatje writes, "there seemed little demarcation between house and landscape, between damaged building and the burned and shelled remnants of the earth." Such an organic image is symbolically important to the novel. Straddling the line between house and landscape, building and earth, the villa represents both death and rebirth. War has destroyed the villa, making huge holes in walls and ceilings. Nature has returned to fill these holes, however, replacing absence with life. Such an image mirrors the spiritual death and rebirth of the villa's inhabitants.