Through the events of the war, Kip gazes in on the Western World's changing, growing in political and military stature, and its attempting to control and colonize others. The gap between West and East that was exacerbated by World War Two is addressed by Ondaatje in the English Patient, but not by Heller, Hemingway, Barker, or Remarque in their novels.

When Kip hears about the atomic bomb toward the end of the English Patient, his attitude grows cynical. He feels a striking sense of ethnic identity, an issue that is not addressed in a Farewell to Arms, Catch-22, Regeneration, or All Quiet on the Western Front. Moreover, the atomic bomb is not alluded to in the other four books. Ondaantje's decision to include the bomb in his novel underscores his commitment to providing a global and universal perspective on the war.

The ethnic and national identities of both Kip and...
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