The planet is covered with geographical, political, and racial boundaries. Everyday citizens around the world are faced with pressures that have been inherited from the day they were born. An illusion of peace was given with the dawn of the atomic bomb. The threat of an apocalypse has halted armies that once expelled out into other neiboring territories. Through the influence of family, intimacy of touch and the effects of war, it is evident that geographical boundaries are more significant then the boundaries of love.
The Great War broke apart families all over the globe. Before the war England had control of colonies all over the world. The colonies were forced to send troops to fight for England at the advance of the German and Italian forces across Europe and Africa. Kips family is from India, which was under English control at the time. His family has a custom for the first Child to enter the military. However, Kips older brother refused to give into anything that implied English domination. "Kip is cheated by the Englishness in a very different way; He is taken in by its values, its false romance- (Spice, 201). While his brother sees the British for what they are and prefers to sit out the war in a Punjabi jail, Kip obeys the call of empire and risks his life to defend Englishness (Spice, 201). Kip, who was expected to be a doctor, joined the army instead while his brother was thrown in jail. "He was the second son. "The oldest son would go into the army, the next brother would be a doctor, a brother after that would be a businessman- (Ondaatje, 182). .
Due to his racial differences Kip was ignored when he first arrived in England. Even risking his life for a country half way around the world couldn't earn some respect from the English soldiers. "The English! They expect you to fight for them but won't even talk to you- (Ondaatje, 188). It wasn't till he became a sapper that he found himself accepted into a kind of family with Lord Suffolk and Miss Mordan.