Cat's Eye Margaret Atwood Analysis

882 Words4 Pages
In Margaret Atwood’s “Cat’s Eye,” Atwood tells the story of a Canadian artist, Elaine Risley. While back in Toronto for an art show, Elaine reflects on the pain of her childhood, and how it has impacted the rest of her life. Atwood relies on the motif of physical structure to illuminate the lack of emotional and personal structure Elaine experiences in her youth - which ultimately resurface as low self-image, as well as the toxic relationships she engages in as an adolescent and adult. Atwood calls on the ideas of renovation, acknowledging the chance for closure a middle-aged Elaine experiences while in Toronto.
Atwood utilizes metaphor to convey Elaine’s constant search for sustainable, healthy, and meaningful structure in her youth.
…show more content…
When her family finally settles down, Elaine begins to grapple with crafting an identity, especially with what it mean to be a girl. Elaine subconsciously searches for acceptance, and her initial lack of structure leads her to fall into toxic relationships with girls in her neighborhood. She meets Carol, Grace, and Cordelia. Elaine begins to find comfort in her new relationships with other girls, but Cordelia senses Elaine’s differences. At the bridge, which comes to symbolize Elaine’s struggles with her identity as she’s coming of age, Atwood examines the girls’ relationship. The bridge is described as “rotten” with junk and litter around the ravine’s “dark waters”. The rotting bridge symbolizes the deterioration of Elaine’s childhood innocence, marking the beginning her transition into young-adulthood. Atwood illustrates the power Cordelia has over the other girls: “As a rule we walk down the middle, but today Cordelia goes right to the railing and leans on it, looking over. One by one and gingerly we follow”(81). Not only does Cordelia break one of their “rules”, she gets all three of the other girls to follow her lead, as they “gingerly”, or cautiously, go up the edge. Cordelia’s…show more content…
When Elaine comes back to Toronto, she is forced to face the demons of her past so that she can hopefully move on in the future. Atwoods calls the reader to reflect on the hardship in one’s life by examining Elaine’s story. She calls into question what it means to be at peace with one’s self, what that peace costs, the sacrifices that must be made to achieve and maintain

More about Cat's Eye Margaret Atwood Analysis

Open Document