The English Patient


Michael Ondaatje

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The English Patient/László Almásy

The protagonist and title character of The English Patient. The English patient is first introduced as Hana’s patient at an abandoned Italian villa during World War II. He has been badly burned and… read analysis of The English Patient/László Almásy


Patrick’s daughter and Kip’s lover. Hana is a 20-year-old Canadian nurse during World War II. She is stationed at the Villa San Girolamo, a former nunnery and makeshift war hospital in Northern Italy… read analysis of Hana

Kip/Kirpal Singh

An Indian sapper during World War II and Hana’s lover. Kip is a Sikh from Punjab, and he joins an experimental bomb unit led by Lord Suffolk, an “eccentric” Englishman. Kip grows close… read analysis of Kip/Kirpal Singh


An Italian immigrant to Canada who fights on behalf of the Allies during World War II. Caravaggio is a thief whose “skills” are “legitimized” during the war, and he is enlisted by the Allies to… read analysis of Caravaggio

Katharine Clifton

Geoffrey Clifton’s wife and the English patient’s lover. After Katharine and Geoffrey are married, she goes with him to Cairo when he is hired to be part of the English’s patient’s desert exploration… read analysis of Katharine Clifton
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Geoffrey Clifton

Katharine Clifton’s husband. Geoffrey is an Englishman who joins the English patient’s desert exploration team as a pilot, but he is actually a member of British Intelligence sent to take aerial pictures of… read analysis of Geoffrey Clifton


Hana’s father, Clara’s husband, and a long-time friend of Caravaggio. Patrick and his family are Canadian, and he enlists in the Canadian Army to fight in World War II. Patrick dies alone… read analysis of Patrick


The English patient’s friend and part of his desert exploration team. Madox is an Englishman, and like the English patient, he carries a book—Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina—through the desert. Madox uses Tolstoy’s… read analysis of Madox


Kip’s second-in-command. Hardy is fond of Kip, and while the other men in their sapper unit find it difficult to call Kip, an Indian, “sir,” Hardy uses this term of address without hesitation. Hardy… read analysis of Hardy

Lord Suffolk

An “eccentric” bomb expert in the British army and Kip’s mentor. Lord Suffolk is a member of “the Holy Trinity” team along with his secretary, Miss Morden, and his chauffer, Mr. Harts, and… read analysis of Lord Suffolk

Kip’s Brother

According to Indian tradition, Kip’s older brother is supposed to join the army, but he adamantly refuses to agree to anything that gives the English power over him. Kip’s brother is thrown into prison… read analysis of Kip’s Brother

Miss Morden

Lord Suffolk’s secretary. Lord Suffolk accepts Kip into his experimental bomb squad on Miss Morden’s recommendation, and she works closely with them in field, keeping notes as the men diffuse bombs. Miss Morden is… read analysis of Miss Morden


A German spy who was sent to Cairo in 1942. According to Caravaggio, Eppler was led across the desert by a Hungarian desert explorer named Almásy with a secret code book hidden in a… read analysis of Eppler


A European desert explorer whom the English patient meets in 1931. In Fenelon-Barnes’s tent in the North African desert, the English patient notices a lump in the man’s bed reflected in the tent’s mirror. He… read analysis of Fenelon-Barnes
Minor Characters
Mr. Fred Harts
Lord Suffolk’s chauffer and a member of “the Holy Trinity” with Suffolk and Miss Morden. Mr. Harts is killed in Erith along with Lord Suffolk and Miss Morden when a “trick” bomb explodes.
Hana’s stepmother and Patrick’s wife. Clara writes Hana several letters during the war, but Hana doesn’t answer them until the end of the book. After bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hana finally writes Clara and tells her she will soon be coming home to Canada.
Prince Kemal el Din
A member of the English patient’s desert exploration team. Prince Kemal el Din is based on Kamal el Dine Hussein, an actual Egyptian desert explorer who worked closely with Almásy in the early 1930s.
A European member of the English patient’s desert exploration team.