In the Skin of a Lion

Nicholas Temelcoff Character Analysis

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 to himself than to engage with his colleagues. He proves generous and capable of self-sacrifice when he saves the nun from falling off the bridge. This episode also allows him to reveal his romantic sensibilities, as he soon becomes enamored of the mysterious nun. He makes many efforts to integrate Canadian society, working hard to learn English, a process he enjoys but finds more difficult than his acrobatics on the bridge.

Nicholas Temelcoff Quotes in In the Skin of a Lion

The In the Skin of a Lion quotes below are all either spoken by Nicholas Temelcoff or refer to Nicholas Temelcoff. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of In the Skin of a Lion published in 1987.
Part 1: Chapter 2: The Bridge Quotes

So when customers step in at any time, what they are entering is an old courtyard of the Balkans. A violin. Olive trees. Permanent evening. Now the arbor-like wallpaper makes sense to her. Now the parrot has a language.

Related Characters: Alice Gull, Nicholas Temelcoff, Kosta
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 2: Chapter 1: Palace of Purification Quotes

In books he had read, even those romances he swallowed during childhood, Patrick never believed that characters lived only on the page. They altered when the author’s eye was somewhere else. (…) Each character had his own time zone, his own lamp, otherwise they were just men from nowhere.

Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
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His own life was no longer a single story but part of a mural, which was a falling together of accomplices.

Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nicholas Temelcoff Character Timeline in In the Skin of a Lion

The timeline below shows where the character Nicholas Temelcoff appears in In the Skin of a Lion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 2: The Bridge
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
...a girl’s face and notices her habit. Terrified, the girl cannot speak, but the man, Nicholas Temelcoff, unable to yell because of the pain, tells her that she should scream to... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Nicholas evaluates the situation and decides that they will need to swing to a higher level.... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...off the bridge—a girl known for being clumsy and unlucky—is gone forever. In the meantime, Temelcoff and the girl walk off the bridge without attracting any attention. They walk through a... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Finally, Nicholas shows the nun the direction to the Ohrida Lake Restaurant, where his friend Kosta opens... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Nicholas is known on the bridge for being exceptionally talented and fearless. He is given the... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Nicholas’s solitary, risky work allows him to be paid one dollar per hour, whereas other workers... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
In the restaurant, Nicholas walks past a parrot called Alicia to search for brandy. When he returns, he offers... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Noticing a scar on the nun’s nose, Temelcoff asks her about it and encourages her to speak, despite her apparent diffidence. Wanting her... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
As Temelcoff keeps on talking, mixing words of English—which he learned by listening to songs on the... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...and looks at herself in a mirror. She passes her hand through her hair, as Temelcoff had wanted to do, and puts her face on the cold surface of the counter.... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
...are trapped in a new space from which everything outside seems foreign and invisible. However, Temelcoff walks off on his own, entering steel and wood cages hanging unstably on the bridge.... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
From his hanging position, Temelcoff calls out to the driver handling steel. Once, he was doing this when a traveler... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...Although, a few years earlier or later, the woman would have smelled the flour in Temelcoff’s hair, what she now remembers is the roughness of the man’s callused hands. (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Even though Commissioner Harris has never spoken to Nicholas Temelcoff directly, he sees how Temelcoff listens attentively to the engineer’s instructions, never looking the... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Tied to a rope, Nicholas steps off the bridge without marking a pause, feeling the pressure of the rope against... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
In Macedonia, Daniel Stoyanoff, a member of Nicholas’s village of Oschima, bragged about his experience in North America. After losing an arm in... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
When war erupts in the Balkans, Nicholas is twenty-five. After his village is destroyed, he leaves with three friends to reach Switzerland... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
When Nicholas finally arrives, after two of his friends died on the journey, he sees Canada as... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
...on stage, to the point that knowledgeable immigrants could play an entire actor’s part. When Nicholas began working on the bridge, he kept to himself, muttering sentences in English to himself... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
In the restaurant, Nicholas is woken up by a doctor taking care of his arm, while Kosta watches on.... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
The day after his accident, Nicholas feels that the city’s streets look new to him and he searches for the nun... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
A week later, once his shoulder is healed, Nicholas returns to the bridge. He ignores people’s stories about the nun who vanished and, instead,... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1: Palace of Purification
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Patrick and Hana sometimes go to Hana’s favorite place, Geranium Bakery, where her friend Nicholas Temelcoff shows them around the bakery. One night, Hana shows Patrick some old photographs and... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Literature, Imagination, and Creativity Theme Icon
...he reads about the nun who fell off the bridge and discovers a picture of Nicholas Temelcoff. Although Patrick wants to find the picture of the nun, he realizes that no... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Literature, Imagination, and Creativity Theme Icon
...a return to the past which only literature can achieve. When Patrick goes to see Nicholas Temelcoff at the bakery, he realizes that Alice must be the nun, taking on the... (full context)
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
After Patrick leaves the bakery, Nicholas keeps on thinking. Although Nicholas never talks about the past, as he focused only on... (full context)
Part 3: Chapter 2: Maritime Theatre
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
When Patrick reaches Geranium Bakery, Nicholas Temelcoff hugs him vigorously. Patrick then asks about Hana and Nicholas tells him that she... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...him about the bag and that he ran out to search for Alice, accompanied by Nicholas Temelcoff. When he heard the explosion nearby, he ran to Alice and took her in... (full context)