Elaine’s childhood and adolescence is characterized by the power she perceives in others and in herself. Carol Campbell, Grace Smeath, and Cordelia are a trio of girls who bullied Elaine in grade school. They antagonized her in numerous ways, all of which attempted to prove their status over her. For instance, when the four of them walk home from school, Elaine is purposefully excluded on numerous occasions, with the hypercritical girls walking ahead or behind her, so they may critique and judge her. The most shocking aspect of this bullying is that Elaine never tells anyone what these girls are doing to her (131). The same secrecy happens when the girls place Elaine in a deep hole, cover the opening, and leave her in there for a while before releasing her (115-6). By keeping these events a secret, she rendered herself incapable of overcoming these bullies and their antics. She made herself powerless and relinquished the perceived power she might have had to the girls who bullied her. Later on in the novel, ther...
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... and poor choices of Elaine Risley, but she also offers advice subliminally through these events. Her first proposal is that perceived power is not true power unless allowed to become real by submission to it. She also cautions individuals to make rational decisions and to consider the consequences of their actions, both for others and themselves, before making these decisions. Finally, Atwood describes the necessity to seek and accept help when overwhelmed by the circumstances of this world. These situations cannot be avoided; they are a natural part of life. However, when people make themselves powerless to overcome them, the experiences will begin to dictate their lives. When one chooses to empower themself, it makes overcoming these obstacles much more feasible. Inner power is an extremely effective tool for combatting life’s troubles when used correctly.
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