In the Skin of a Lion

Dynamite Symbol Analysis

Dynamite Symbol Icon

Patrick’s father Hazen Lewis is the first person in their region to use dynamite to dislodge jammed logs in the river. Hazen becomes an expert at this task, taking meticulous precautions to keep both his son and himself safe. However, it is ultimately dynamite that kills Hazen, after a company asks him to use it in a feldspar mine, where he is told to go too far down. Patrick soon learns his father’s trade, thus making dynamite a symbol of family legacy. Patrick uses it both for practical purposes on the job, as his father had, and also as a tool of political protest. By planning to make fancy hotels and expensive construction projects explode, Patrick aims to make a statement about the injustice that affects so many workers’ lives—including his father’s—as they are constantly exposed to dangerous, life-threatening situations. Therefore, although Patrick’s dynamiting skills initially benefit an exploitative system (as dynamite plays an important role in building the waterworks), they ultimately turn against it, using the same tool to denounce the exploitation that oppresses workers. Dynamite thus makes Patrick feel connected to his childhood and his family identity, but also to a world beyond himself: grand ideals of justice and equality for all members of society.

Dynamite Quotes in In the Skin of a Lion

The In the Skin of a Lion quotes below all refer to the symbol of Dynamite. 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 2: Chapter 1: Palace of Purification Quotes

Nobody else wants the claustrophobic uncertainty of this work, but for Patrick this part is the only ease in this terrible place where he feels banished from the world. He carries out the old skill he learned from his father—although then it had been in sunlight, in rivers, logs tumbling over themselves slowly in the air.

Related Characters: Patrick Lewis, Hazen Lewis
Related Symbols: Dynamite
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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- Compassion forgives too much. You could forgive the worst man. You forgive him and nothing changes.

- You can teach him, make him aware . . .

- Why leave the power in his hands?

Related Characters: Patrick Lewis (speaker), Alice Gull (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dynamite
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I don’t think I’m big enough to put someone in a position where they have to hurt another.

Related Characters: Patrick Lewis, Alice Gull
Related Symbols: Dynamite
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 3: Chapter 2: Maritime Theatre Quotes

- You watch, in fifty years they’re going to come here and gape at the herringbone and the copper roofs. We need excess, something to live up to. I fought tooth and nail for that herringbone.

- You fought. You fought. Think about those who built the intake tunnels. Do you know how many of us died in there?

- There was no record kept.

Related Characters: Patrick Lewis (speaker), Rowland Harris (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dynamite
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

You must realize you are like these places, Patrick. You’re as much of the fabric as the aldermen and the millionaires. But you’re among the dwarfs of enterprise who never get accepted or acknowledged. Mongrel company. You’re a lost heir. So you stay in the woods. You reject power. And this is how the bland fools – the politicians and press and mayors and their advisers – become the spokesmen for the age.

Related Characters: Rowland Harris (speaker), Patrick Lewis
Related Symbols: Dynamite
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Dynamite Symbol Timeline in In the Skin of a Lion

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dynamite appears in In the Skin of a Lion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 1: Little Seeds
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Patrick remembers his father, Hazen Lewis, practicing using dynamite. Hazen would draw the outline of Patrick on a table and practice blowing out a... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
...the only risk he ever took in his life: he blows up a tree with dynamite instead of chopping it with an axe. From that moment, he decided to become a... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
...down the river. Logs that remain jammed in narrow stretches of the river need a dynamiter to dislodge them. In these cases, Hazen Lewis and Patrick arrive. After taking off his... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1: Palace of Purification
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Whenever the workers discover large walls of rock, Patrick works alone to dynamite it. He is paid extra for laying charges, in addition to his ordinary digging work.... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Community and Immigrant Culture Theme Icon
...that he used to work as a searcher and that he knows how to use dynamite—a reply that causes an even greater silence. Kosta then suddenly begins yelling passionately at Patrick,... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 2: Remorse
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
...night before, Patrick poured paraffin in the Muskoska hotel, where many regatta-goers were staying, and dynamited the dock before rowing away. Now, a woman in the Garden of the Blind begins... (full context)
Part 3: Chapter 2: Maritime Theatre
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
...his shirt, he rubs grease all over his body and Caravaggio helps him attach the dynamite. They have calculated that one tank should be sufficient for Patrick to succeed, although they... (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
...Patrick then exits the well and finds himself surrounded by machines. He takes off his dynamite and strips naked, lying down to rest. (full context)
The Working Class vs. the Rich Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...pain. After a while, he stands up, dresses, and attaches the blasting caps onto the dynamite, imagining the effect of the explosion as it will make the water burst in the... (full context)