The English Patient

by

Michael Ondaatje

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Geoffrey Clifton Character Analysis

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 the North African desert, which is expected to soon become a theater of World War II. Geoffrey discovers Katharine and the English patient’s affair long after it is over, and just as Katharine suspects, Geoffrey “goes mad.” Geoffrey flies to the Gilf Kebir to pick the English patient up from base camp and attempts to crash his plane into the English patient in a poorly-executed murder-suicide. When the English patient, who is unharmed, runs to the wrecked plane, he finds Geoffrey dead, and Katharine, the passenger, badly wounded. British Intelligence finds Geoffrey’s body in 1936 and are convinced that the English patient—who they know as László Almásy, a Hungarian explorer—has killed Geoffrey because of Almásy’s own affair with Katharine.

Geoffrey Clifton Quotes in The English Patient

The The English Patient quotes below are all either spoken by Geoffrey Clifton or refer to Geoffrey Clifton. 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:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The English Patient published in 1993.
Chapter V Quotes

She picks up a cushion and places it onto her lap as a shield against him. “If you make love to me I won’t lie about it. If I make love to you I won’t lie about it.”

She moves the cushion against her heart, as if she would suffocate that part of herself which has broken free.

“What do you hate most?” he asks.

“A lie. And you?”

“Ownership,” he says. “When you leave me, forget me.”

Her fist swings towards him and hits hard into the bone just below his eye. She dresses and leaves.

Related Characters: The English Patient/László Almásy (speaker), Katharine Clifton (speaker), Geoffrey Clifton
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The English Patient LitChart as a printable PDF.
The English Patient PDF

Geoffrey Clifton Character Timeline in The English Patient

The timeline below shows where the character Geoffrey Clifton appears in The English Patient. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter IV. South Cairo 1930-1938
War and Nationality Theme Icon
British Colonialism and Racism Theme Icon
In 1936, the English patient met Geoffrey Clifton. Geoffrey was newly married, and looking to go on an expedition into the desert.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Geoffrey Clifton and his wife, Katharine, were still on their honeymoon, and the English patient had... (full context)
Chapter V. Katharine
Love Theme Icon
...dreamed of the English patient, she woke up screaming in the bed she shared with Geoffrey. Her dream was the first time she realized her feelings for the other man, although... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...often felt guilty about their relationship. She claimed she didn’t know what to do; if Geoffrey ever found out about their affair, he would “go mad.” As their affair progressed, Madox... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Whenever Katharine had to leave the English patient and return to Geoffrey, the English patient was “insane.” He couldn’t stand to lose her if it meant he... (full context)
Chapter VI. A Buried Plane
Love Theme Icon
...Katharine’s body out of the cave. She had been injured three years earlier, in 1939. Geoffrey had attempted a murder-suicide of himself, Katharine, and the English patient by crashing his plane.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...lover. Just before the war, he returned to Gilf Kebir to take down base camp. Geoffrey was scheduled to pick the English patient up in his plane, and when he arrived,... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...took Katharine’s broken body from the plane, she asked him why he hated her so. Geoffrey began to suspect their affair long after it was over because the English patient treated... (full context)
Chapter IX. The Cave of Swimmers
Love Theme Icon
...Hana and Caravaggio, that when he first met Katharine, she was a married woman. When Geoffrey Clifton arrived in the desert to join the English patient’s expedition, they were all surprised... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
One night, Geoffrey asked Katharine to read a poem out loud, but she wanted to read something else.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
War and Nationality Theme Icon
When Katharine and Geoffrey were not in the desert, they were in Cairo doing work for the English. Geoffrey... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Although the English patient did not know it, Geoffrey Clifton was deeply involved with the English government, and they knew all about the English... (full context)
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...patient says that words only bend emotions, “like sticks in water.” Katharine eventually returned to Geoffrey, and the English patient returned to the desert. He had told Madox nothing specific about... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...patient finally talked him into going into a bar, and there they saw Katharine and Geoffrey Clifton. The English patient was drunk and invented a dance called “the Bosphorus hug.” He... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
In the Cave of Swimmers, after Geoffrey had crashed his plane, the English patient placed Katharine, grimacing in pain, on a stretched... (full context)
War and Nationality Theme Icon
...assures him that he did not, and Caravaggio tells him that he only asks because Geoffrey Clifton was no ordinary Englishman.  (full context)
War and Nationality Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Geoffrey Clifton had been ordered by British Intelligence to keep an eye on Almásy and his... (full context)
War and Nationality Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...him, but he disappeared into the desert. British Intelligence was convinced that Almásy had killed Geoffrey Clifton because of his affair with Katharine. Caravaggio says that Almásy became Britain’s enemy not... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
The English patient had to return to the Gilf Kebir, he tells Caravaggio, and Geoffrey was to pick him up in his plane. When Geoffrey arrived, he circled around in... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
History, Words, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...and tribes.” People are “communal histories, communal books,” the English patient says. The night that Geoffrey Clifton crashed his plane, the English patient carried Katharine into the desert, into the “communal... (full context)