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National Identity in The English Patient

            There is no argument against the idea that there is a stereotypical view attached to national identity; however, this does not give an accurate portrayal of an individual. Throughout The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje, identity, or lack or, seems to be a generally recurring theme throughout the novels entirety, but identity goes beyond just ones physical traits. It envelops the roots of ones culture and establishes an individual sense of belonging in the world. The Kip and the English Patient, two prominent characters of the text, are portrayed in specific ways due to where they come from, but each possess numerous meaningful, yet convoluted pieces to a puzzle that when pieced together, creates their national identity, their exclusive place in the world. Throughout The English Patient, Kip struggles to choose whether he should follow his family's culture or adopt a new, more modern western lifestyle, while the English Patient chooses to abandon national identity as a whole and live a convoluted life of uncertainty. .
             Kip is a character that is presented with an elusive and quizzical identity throughout the novels entirety. The sappers national identity crisis derives from his inability to follow the path his family chose for him by joining the English army and then becoming a bomb defuser rather than becoming a doctor and raising a family in India. Because he chose this path, he was exposed to a great deal of English culture, making it easier to stray from his Indian values and assimilate into a western lifestyle. The first instance of his transformation to westernization is when Lord Suffolk renames him Kip, whereas his real name is Kirpal Singh. Although this might have seemed as an insignificant moment in the book, this is where Kips national identity crisis ultimately begins. His superior, Lord Suffolk, along with the rest of the sappers are now viewing him with a more modern, western identity to match his new nickname.

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