Approaches to Literature

Reference:MLA style
The students chose the third topic.
In the last photo, a student wrote part of intro draft. You should write according to his intro draft and the attached homework requirements。

English 110, Section 004: Approaches to Literature, 2019-2020, Term 1
Understanding Narrative in Canadian Contexts: Professor Glenn Deer

Discussion Groups:
LDI TA: Brendan McCormack; LD2 TA: Bronwyn Malloy; LD3 TA: Gage Diabo;
LD4 TA: Brad Jackson; LD5 TA: Heidi Rennert
Guidelines for the home essay:
The next assignment for English 110 is a home essay of 1500-1700 words (6-7 typed pages,
single-sided, and double-spaced). Your paper will analyze narrative elements in Michael
Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion and will demonstrate the practical application of core concepts
from Abbott’s The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. These two sources are sufficient for
all optional topics below except for one special topic that requires consultation of one additional
You will need to provide a draft of your introductory paragraph, an outline of the body of
the essay, and a list of Works Cited, for a peer review workshop on October 25th. 10% will
be lost for non-submission and non-participation in the workshop, so do participate to reap the
obvious benefits of feedback.
All consulted and cited sources must be documented in the MLA style (Modern Language
The final copy of your home essay is due at the discussion group meeting on Friday,
November 1st.
(Policy on late essays: In order to be fair to the students who schedule their work routine to
meet the due dates, a late penalty of 5% per day will be assessed for late essays. This does not
apply to students with a legitimate and verified medical issue that prevents timely work.)
1) Explain how motifs of scars or physical violence convey different perspectives on the theme
of the development of the city of Toronto. You might ask how the different scarred or
violently injured human bodies express different dimensions of material, economic, and
political development of the city. Ensure that you define motif and theme clearly, and use
clear examples with reference to two or three characters.
2) “In North America everything was rich and dangerous” (44). The narrative of Daniel
Stoyanoff introduces, but also complicates, some familiar masterplots about Canadian identity,
namely the belief that Canada is a land of opportunity for immigrants and the ideals of
multiculturalism. Ondaatje explores other Canadian masterplots in In the Skin of a Lion,
including the notion that hard work is rewarded by upward class mobility, and the link between
infrastructure development and national progress. Select one of these Canadian masterplots,
and explore its treatment in the novel by comparing the experiences of two of the following
characters: Hazen Lewis, Patrick Lewis, Caravaggio, Nicholas Temelcoff, Clara Dickens,
Ambrose Small, Alice Gull, Rowland Harris. Does the novel support or contest the masterplot?
(N.B. your introduction should include a clear, concise definition of the masterplot you’ve

©Copyright of this page reserved for UBC English 110. 004 2019W T1: Prof. G. Deer 2
3) In The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, Porter Abbott writes, “All narratives of any
length build worlds with all four dimensions of time and space, inhabited by characters who
have inner worlds of their own” (164). Within the layers of the public and private storyworlds
of Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, several characters physically build major city infrastructure
whilst actively constructing their private “inner worlds.” For example, while Nicholas
Temelcoff publically labours on the Bloor Viaduct, he actively practices his English, and as
Patrick Hazen digs and dynamites the tunnel under Lake Ontario, he also mourns the loss of
others. In this novel, how does the public labour of city-building intersect with the private inner
worlds of characters? Refer in detail to at least two characters in your discussion.
4) The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘sacrifice’ as, “the destruction or surrender of
something valued or desired for the sake of something having, or regarded as having, a higher
or a more pressing claim; the loss entailed by devotion to some other interest” (OED). The
theme of sacrifice for a greater good plays a central role in Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion: for
example, Patrick Lewis sacrifices his body for his father; and, Nicholas Temelcoff sacrifices his
body for the construction of the bridge, and his body for the life of the nun, etc. Explore the
theme of sacrifice in the novel: What is regarded as the “higher or more pressing claim” for
which individuals in the novel sacrifice their bodies? Refer in detail to at least two characters in
your discussion.
5) Like Ondaatje’s own research for writing about a historical time and place, Patrick Lewis
consults libraries and interviews sources to get to the “truth” about the people and events around
him. With reference to both the form and narrative of the novel, discuss how the use of
paratexts and archives participates in the theme of world-building in In the Skin of a Lion. How
does the novel treat its many sources and voices? In what ways do paratexts and archives
establish credibility? Consider also Patrick’s own motivations as a researcher in making sense
of his place in the world and his relationships with other characters.
6) “This is a story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning,” we read
in the opening line of In the Skin of a Lion: “She listens to the man as he picks up and brings
together various corners of the story, attempting to carry it all in his arms.” Carefully consider
the novel’s opening frame (the italicized page preceding “Little Seeds”), along with the closing
scene (pp. 243-244). How does this framing narrative shape our understanding of the novel as
a whole? You could focus your argument on key aspects of the story’s content (e.g., significant
events, characters, themes) and/or its form (the narrative discourse of its representation).

7) Vicki Visvis in her article, “Traumatic Representation: The Power and
Limitations of Storytelling as ‘Talking Cure’ in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion and
The English Patient,” writes that the loss of one particular friendship is so “overwhelming that
Patrick is without a vocabulary of grief that will allow him to articulate the event in his own
voice”(93). Visvis argues that Patrick eventually is able to tell the story of this particular
violent death through his “cathartic confession” to Rowland Harris, and this “talking cure”
creates a “redemptive bond based on trust between two people who had once been

©Copyright of this page reserved for UBC English 110. 004 2019W T1: Prof. G. Deer 3
enemies”(94). Do you agree with Visvis’s argument about how storytelling can heal trauma?
Explain your own position by analyzing the possible healing effects of storytelling in three other
scenes in In the Skin of a Lion. You can consult the full text of Vicki Visvis’s article online: her
article appears in the journal Ariel (2009) in Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 89 to 108, and the PDF
can be found by entering the title of her article through the “Summon” search box on the UBC
Library homepage.
Note Well: Ethical academic conduct and honesty are expected in all work. Plagiarism, or
the intentional unacknowledged use of another writer’s work, is unethical and university policy
prescribes significant penalties for plagiarism. Plagiarism can be penalized with failure in a
course, and a letter would be sent to your faculty to become part of your academic record.
Severe forms of plagiarism or cheating, such as paying someone to write your essay, or cheating
on an exam can result in suspension from the university. Your writing should be based on
your own intellectual work and sources that are consulted should be documented in the official
Modern Language Association (MLA) style. For more guidance with maintaining academic
integrity and avoiding plagiarism, please see the following UBC site:
You must respect instructions on the use of secondary sources and how to properly employ
quotations from different types of sources. Do not lift material from a website like
Sparknotes, and do not have someone else write your essays. Because we are skilled
readers of texts, with many years of experience, we can detect these forms of plagiarism
and unfair help. If you do use material from a website, a book, or an article, always
(ALWAYS!) acknowledge your sources in the body of your essay and list the cited work in
a “Works Cited” list. If you consult a writing tutor or enlist a friend to help with essay
feedback outside of the classroom setting, that person can only provide verbal advice on
how to improve your writing in general, but they must not change or rewrite your essay
for you.

Guidelines for the introductory paragraph, the outline, and list of Works Cited due on
October 25th:
1) Name: First, type your name, student number, discussion group number, and TA’s name in
the top left hand corner of your outline.
2) Title: Provide an appropriate title for your paper that refers to the main narrative elements
that you intend to analyze in In the Skin of a Lion.
Example: “Closure and Non-Closure of Character Conflicts in Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion.”

3) Provide an introductory first paragraph: State your central questions or state your main
claims about the narrative element that you intend to analyze, and also provide a definition of

©Copyright of this page reserved for UBC English 110. 004 2019W T1: Prof. G. Deer 4
the narrative element. Your questions or claims should be significant and not trivial. Explain the
importance of the selected narrative element for exploring Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a
When you define the narrative element, quote the important concepts from Abbott’s The

Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Do NOT use Wikipedia, SparkNotes, or other non-
scholarly sources. If you do consult other sources that influence your analysis, you must quote

these sources and also list these in your Works Cited list. Remember to incorporate and
acknowledge all of the works that you have consulted and to quote your sources in the body of
the essay. These acknowledgements are very important to avoid the problem of plagiarism.
(Occasionally, some desperate students who struggle with their writing might attempt to pad
their work with plagiarized sentences from published sources they have found on the Web: we
now have more digital tools to identify plagiarism, so please respect the ethics of scholarship.
Acknowledge your sources and you can avoid the awkward complications of a plagiarism
Here is an example of an introductory first paragraph that begins with clear questions related to
a specific narrative element. The sample paragraph moves from the questions to the definition,
and then sets out a specific “claim” or argument. This sample introduction also uses one other
narrative theorist, Noel Carroll, though this is not required. Note that the “claim” or argument
is clearly stated. As well, the first-person point-of-view is used regularly to emphasize the
argumentative position. This point-of-view is known as the”discursive ‘i'”:


Sample first paragraph:
How does Ondaatje stage the narrative closure of power conflicts, or agon, between Patrick
Lewis and Ambrose Small, and also between Patrick and Rowland Harris? Does Ondaatje
provide clear closure in these cases or does he keep closure suspended? H. Porter Abbott has
written that “the representation of conflict in narrative provides a way for a culture to talk to
itself about, and possibly resolve, conflicts that threaten to fracture it”(55). Abbott also
emphasizes that “[w]hen a narrative resolves a conflict, it achieves closure, and this usually
comes at the end of the narrative”(56). However, other narrative theorists like Noel Carroll
have pointed out that narrative closure “is not . . . a necessary condition of all narratives,” and
“Some narratives just stop or come to rest, rather than ending or concluding. Not all narratives
have closure”(2). I claim in my analysis that Patrick’s power conflict with Ambrose is
unresolved and not brought to closure because of the ambiguous role of Clara. However, I will
show that Patrick’s conflict with Rowland Harris is resolved. I will show this by carefully
considering the uses of suspense and the physical and verbal confrontations between the
characters in two key scenes: first, when Ambrose attempts to burn Patrick in “The Searcher”
section and, second, when Patrick confronts Rowland Harris at the water filtration plant.
4) After providing your draft introduction, include a point form outline of the remaining
sections of your essay, and refer to the claims you will make and the evidence from the novel
that you will cite. When you quote a phrase or a sentence from your different sources, place the
quoted phrase or sentence in quotation marks, as in the sample paragraph above. Add the page

©Copyright of this page reserved for UBC English 110. 004 2019W T1: Prof. G. Deer 5
number in parentheses, as in the sample above. The period is placed after the parentheses.
More examples and guidelines can be found here at the Purdue Online Writing Lab:
5) Provide a “Works Cited” list in the MLA style: This will include your primary text, or the
novel by Ondaatje, plus Abbott’s The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. and any other
sources that you have consulted and cited. The sources are listed here in alphabetic order
according to the surname of the author.
You can find more guidelines on the MLA Works Cited page here at the Purdue Online Writing

Works Cited
Abbott, H. Porter. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Second edition. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
Carroll, Noël. “Narrative Closure.” Philosophical Studies. 135.1 (Aug., 2007): 1-15. Web.
Ondaatje, Michael. In the Skin of a Lion. 1987. Toronto: Vintage, 1996. Print.