1. Is Patrick lonely? In my opinion, I feel as though the boy is lonely, living in such a remote and desolate place, with only his father to spend his time with. For example Ondaatje says, “He was born into a region which did not appear on a map until 1910, though his family had worked there for twenty hears and the land had been homesteaded since 1816. In the school atlas the place is pale green and nameless. The river slips out of an unnamed lake…” (10-11).
Patrick’s characteristics makes him seem sad or withdrawn from society, for he spends his time gazing out the window searching for bugs. Ondaatje exclaims, “He walks back into the bright kitchen and moves from window to window to search out the moths pinioned against the screens, clinging to the brightness… Bugs, plant hoppers, grasshoppers, rust-dark moths…throughout the summer he records their visits and sketches the repeaters “ (9). I feel bad for Patrick, that his only companions are the bugs flying around his house, in search for light.
Although Patrick does have his father, his dad doesn’t pay him any attention, unless they are working together. Ondaatje says, “Hazen Lewis was an abashed man, withdrawn from the world around him, uninterested in the habits of civilization outside his own focus. He would step up to his horse and assume it, as if it were a train, as if flesh and blood did not exist” (15). It would be rough to grow up in that kind of unloving environment. It would be difficult to feel you had to earn your love.
For Patrick’s father, only praises him when they are successful at work. For example, Ondaatje says, “They begin to run back home, looking behind them to see if the cow is following. The boy gasps, ‘If she goes into the ice again I’m not doing a thing’ ‘Neither am I’ yells his father, laughing” (16). The only part in the story when the boys Father demonstrates warmth and kindness towards his son, is when they save the cow from drowning. The fathers introverted attitude, makes me question how he became so incredibly withdrawn from society.
It makes me wonder what happened to his wife. Did she die? Is that the reason why he chooses to act so distant from his son? Does he remind him of her? Patrick’s absent mother also makes me question if that is the reason why Patrick is so quite and reclusive, like his father. With Patrick’s mother missing from his life and Patrick’s father uncommunicative, it causes him to live a very lonely, unhappy, and solitary life. 3. Patrick’s unloving and solitary environment is the reason for his unhappiness.