In the Skin of a Lion


Michael Ondaatje

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In the Skin of a Lion Characters

Patrick Lewis

Canadian protagonist Patrick Lewis grows up in the countryside in Eastern Ontario with his taciturn father Hazen Lewis. Although Patrick enjoys socializing, he later demonstrates some of the reserved characteristics of his father. Throughout… read analysis of Patrick Lewis

Alice Gull

Clara Dickens’s friend and Patrick Lewis’s romantic partner was initially a nun, whom Nicholas Temelcoff saved from falling off the bridge. However, she never talks about this period of her life, focusing instead… read analysis of Alice Gull

Clara Dickens

The radio actress Clara Dickens is Ambrose Small’s mistress before becoming Patrick Lewis’s lover. Although she is affectionate toward Patrick, she remains more committed to Ambrose and does not think twice about leaving… read analysis of Clara Dickens

Nicholas Temelcoff

Initially known as a fearless worker on the bridge, Macedonian immigrant Nicholas Temelcoff later leads a more peaceful life as a baker. He is deeply talented at manual work but remains reserved, preferring to keep… read analysis of Nicholas Temelcoff


Despite being a thief, Caravaggio is one of the novel’s most immediately likable characters. An Italian immigrant, Caravaggio is particularly skillful at seducing the people around him, overwhelming them with his charm and good humor… read analysis of Caravaggio
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Alice Gull’s lover is a political activist who never appears directly in the novel. His political work forces him to keep a secret identity, and all that is known about him is that Cato… read analysis of Cato


Alice and Cato’s daughter is a particularly mature girl, showing pride for her father’s work and helping Patrick integrate into Macedonian society by teaching him foreign words. She proves capable of taking care of… read analysis of Hana

Rowland Harris

Commissioner Harris believes in the beauty of his work and trusts that the projects he is in charge of, such as the construction of the Bloor Street Viaduct and the waterworks, will be glorious additions… read analysis of Rowland Harris

Ambrose Small

Millionaire Ambrose Small is characterized by his rapacious attitude toward business and, in general, toward life. He believes that everything can be bought and discarded, even his romantic relationships. At the end of his life… read analysis of Ambrose Small

Hazen Lewis

Patrick Lewis’s father is a reserved, taciturn person focused exclusively on his work as a dynamiter for a logging company. Although he often shows concern for Patrick’s safety and well-being, he rarely talks, preferring… read analysis of Hazen Lewis


Caravaggio’s wife proves both generous and fearless when she helps him escape the mushroom factory where he is hiding after a robbery. She shares certain similar traits with her husband, such as a bold… read analysis of Giannetta


A woman Caravaggio meets at the lake where he is sleeping in somebody else’s cottage illegally. Anne proves perceptive and courageous when she soon discovers that Caravaggio is a thief, but is not scared of… read analysis of Anne

Daniel Stoyanoff

A member of Nicholas’s village in Macedonia, Daniel Stoyanoff worked in Canada, where his arm was cut off during his time in a factory. He received large financial compensation for this and spent the… read analysis of Daniel Stoyanoff
Minor Characters
Nicholas’s friend Kosta is the owner of the Ohrida Lake restaurant, modeled after a courtyard in the Balkans. He is one of the political organizers of the community and proves friendly toward Patrick when they get to know each other.
A young bilingual boy that the Macedonian community asks to translate Patrick’s English words. Emil is friendly and thoughtful, making sure not to rebuke Patrick or make him feel uncomfortable.
Clara’s Mother
Clara’s mother tells Patrick about Clara’s past relationship with Stump Jones and gives him indications about where to find Ambrose and Clara. She also warns Patrick that he is reacting too strongly to Clara’s departure and should forget about her.
Commissioner Harris shares with English architect Pomphrey his great visions for the city of Toronto, and Pomphrey later designs the waterworks building.
A woman Patrick meets at the Garden of the Blind on Page Island, when he is hiding from the police after setting fire to the Muskoka Hotel.
Theresa Kormann
Ambrose Small’s wife, considered a rigid, morally upright woman.
A young boy whom Caravaggio meets after escaping from prison who helps him get rid of the blue paint on his face.
A friend of Ambrose Small’s who never appears directly in the story but whom Clara Dickens mentions as a man of impressive creative vision.
Arthur Goss
The City of Toronto’s first official photographer, known for his photographs of construction projects, such as the Bloor Street Viaduct.
The shopkeeper who sells vetch to Patrick for months before discovering that he uses it to feed his iguana.
The Rich Wife
Caravaggio seduces a rich woman at a costume party so that he can steal her boat to take Patrick to the waterworks. The woman is ostentatiously flirtatious and is clearly dissatisfied with her marriage—a situation that Caravaggio takes advantage of.
The Rich Husband
The rich wife’s rough, uninteresting husband.
Stump Jones
A man Clara was briefly married to as a teenager.
The parrot in Kosta’s restaurant.