In the Skin of a Lion

In the Skin of a Lion Summary and Analysis of Book Three, Chapter 2, "Maritime Theater"

Maritime Theater

The chapter opens with Patrick being released from prison. The narrative moves outward from Patrick at first, with a listing of all that is going on in the world during the year of his release, 1938. The wide lens of current events serves to put us in Patrick's shoes, seeing the world anew and all that has changed and happened in it without him.

Patrick goes to Nicholas Temlcoff’s house and asks for Hana. We find out that five years earlier, he had left Hana with him after Alice died. He had told Hana, “Each of us is on his own now for awhile.” And she had replied, “I know.” She had been eleven and now she was sixteen. Patrick and Hana observe each other and Hana gets up saying, “Hey, Patrick, look how tall I’ve got!” They go out to eat and are back in their routine and friendship.

The next section shows Ambrose Pierce dying with Clara attending to him. She had thought she would get to know him in her years living with him, but he stayed closed off to her. Until these last moments, when all he did was talk, as if “emptying ballast.” He talks of all the women he’d been with and his financial dishonesties and betrayals; it all came out of him, and Clara just listens and watches him sink further into delirium until he dies.

The next section shifts to a scene in media res of Hana shaking Patrick awake, urgently telling him that she forgot to tell him that a woman named Clara Dickens is on the phone and has been waiting. Patrick puts his face under the tap and shouts for her not to hang up before he gets to the phone. Clara tells him she’s in Marmora and that she needs him to come get her. They fall immediately back into their familiar banter. Clara asks if the girl who answered the phone is his daughter and he replies that she is. Patrick tells Hana that he needs to sleep for 40 minutes or so, and then to wake him, and they will drive to Marmora. He says he’ll tell her all about the woman on the phone during the drive.

We are given the details of six months ago, when Patrick broke into the Waterworks to confront Commissioner Harris. Caravaggio and Gianetta helped him by going with him to a party for the rich at the Yacht Club on Toronto Island. Caravaggio begins to flirt with a society lady there, while Gianetta and Patrick hang back, too afraid to speak to anyone. Caravaggio tells the woman that Gianetta is his sister, and he gets the woman to take the three of them onto their yacht. They chloroform the wealthy couple and Gianetta paints Patrick black with grease. He puts on an oxygen tank and they drop him in the lake where the intake tunnel for the Waterworks begins, a mile and a half offshore. He has to make it throu gh the tunnel before his tank runs out and then cut the grill with wire cutters to get out of the tunnel and into the Waterworks building.

Patrick loses the wirecutters underwater by the time he makes it to the grill. He uses dynamite that he has wrapped on his body to explode the grill, which jolts his body so that he injures his arm. He has four remaining dynamite sets which he sets up around the waterworks. Then he walks barefoot up the stairs to where Commissioner Harris sleeps in his office in a makeshift bed. He confronts Harris about how many men died building this extravagant vision of his, how much exploitation of the poor laborers he has done. Harris denies nothing. He talks with Patrick until daylight and Patrick falls asleep with the blasting box in his lap. A guard comes in and Harris tells him to take the box from the sleeping man and defuse it, and to get a nurse to take care of Patrick’s injuries.

Hana wakes Patrick so that at first we are not sure if the waterworks scene with Harris was Patrick’s dream. But then Hana helps Patrick with “his good arm around her shoulder,” and we realize it was not a dream, that his arm was hurt and the event really happened. Patrick tells Hana that Clara was her mother’s best friend. He lets Hana drive and then he says, “Lights,” as he is about to tell Hana the whole story in the car.


Many pieces of the plot that were left hanging throughout the novel are resolved in this last chapter. At one point earlier in the novel, Patrick says to Alice that he wants to take care of Hana in a “formal” way. We understand this to mean adoption, but Alice just replies, “You already do take care of her” and later, “she knows how much you love her.” We are not sure that Patrick has adopted Hana, but when Patrick makes a point to tell Clara that Hana is indeed his daughter, it seems that he has adopted her.

The loose end of Clara and Ambrose is tied up as well. Clara calls Patrick first thing after Ambrose dies, and we are unsure whether there is still a reward from the family after so many years, but it is touching that Clara does not hesitate to call him, and he does not hesitate to drive to pick her up. He is the only person she calls. This shows that their love was indeed real.

Patrick’s friendship with Caravaggio and Gianetta bring that plot full circle, as we learn that the two men reunite outside of prison and help each other as loyal friends. Patrick’s break-in to the Waterworks also seems to close the circle of Patrick avenging Alice’s feelings about the wealthy exploiting the poor. The Waterworks building is where Alice and Patrick had started their romance, when Alice played the part of the puppet in the illicit gatherings of immigrants when that building was half-finished. It closes the circle on the Waterworks project as well, that the final scene of Patrick’s revenge takes place in the finished building.

The fact that Harris does not prosecute Patrick, but instead puts him in his own bed to sleep and then has the guard bring a nurse to tend to his wounds shows that despite the class struggle, and the anger of the poor toward him, Harris still has empathy toward the working class. He even thinks, after Patrick is asleep, that he “understood why [Patrick] had chosen him, [he] knew he was one of the few in power who had something tangible around him. But those with real power had nothing to show for themselves. They had paper. They didn’t carry a cent. Harris was an amateur in their midst. He had to sell himself every time.” This shows that really Harris is not one of the very wealthy, even though he has nice material possessions – those with real power rule over even him.

When Patrick and Hana get ready to drive to Marmora, Hana is excited, and the reader is anticipating this meeting, where Clara will of course recognize the features of her best friend Alice in her daughter Hana. Although Patrick has told Clara that Hana is his daughter, Clara will know she is Alice’s daughter, and that he played a big role in Alice’s life after she left them both. The prologue at the opening of the novel comes full circle here and we understand that the “young girl” in the car listening to stories is Hana listening to Patrick as they drive to get Clara.