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
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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.