Kip and Hana feel there are greater forces than sex working between them. As she scratches his back when they are falling asleep, he is reminded of the comforting love of his mother.


Chapter VIII highlights the differences between Kip and Caravaggio. Caravaggio, though a thief, is morally and emotionally complex. Far from perfect at his profession, Hana remembers him being "constantly diverted by the human element during burglaries. ...Breaking into a house during Christmas, he would become annoyed if he noticed the Advent calendar had not been opened up to the date to which it should have been." Such a diversion signals fallibility in Caravaggio, and his remarkably human actions give us the sense that even though he is a thief, he may not necessarily be immoral. In contrast, Kip's profession in the army is a noble one. He saves innocent lives every day by defusing bombs, a duty that neutralizes aggression. As a character, however, Kip is not gripped by the same humanizing diversions that occupy Caravaggio. While he is working on a bomb he completely puts aside the human element of his work. He does not give a thought to his feelings or emotions, but only to the task at hand. He repeatedly thinks that he needs either Hardy or Hana to "bring him back to humanity."

This contrast between Kip and Caravaggio emphasizes the nature of humanity in wartime. Because the characters find it is so necessary to protect themselves emotionally, they find it easy to sacrifice humanity. Kip sections off his humanity, seemingly saving it until after the war by placing a wall between himself and everyone else. The English patient also does this throughout the 1930s, refusing to let anyone get close to him in his travels, his affairs, and his friendships. He shares little about his private life, choosing to stick to only the descriptive facts when he writes about the landscape and the geography. This detachment is what makes Katharine's entrance into his life so disruptive to him. She forces humanity and fallibility into his life. In the end, Ondaatje offers no judgment on the characters' varying approaches to the question of humanity, as both Kip and Almasy are left with only the consequences of their decisions.