Margaret Atwood's Surfacing Essay

Margaret Atwood's Surfacing Essay

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Margaret Atwood's 'Surfacing'

Throughout the book the narrator constantly intertwines the past and
present as though it is side by side. Atwood shows this in the
opening sentence ‘’I can’t believe I’m on this road again’’. The use
of the adjective ‘again’ reveals the narrator has been in this place
in an earlier life. The narrator seems to repress a lot of her past
and continuously contradicts herself, which at times confuses the
reader as we can not tell whether she is talking about her past or her
present and whether she regards it as home as she says ‘’Now were on
home ground foreign territory’’.

This links in with one of the key divisions in the story between the
Americans and the Canadians that is portrayed throughout the book.
This paradoxical declarative reveals that the protagonist feels she
should belong there but feels detached from this childhood place,
suggesting she may feel alienated from this place revealing something
oppressive about this home ground. Also David is the key person who
emphasizes this division between the Americans and Canadians. On page
three David stresses ‘’Bloody fascist pig Yanks’’, reiterating the
stereotypical Canadian disliking of the Americans, using his usual
hostile, aggressive language. Ironically David seems to be the
fascist pig being the unpleasant chauvinistic pig. The use of the
adjective ‘foreign’ links in with the division of language between
French and English that we see later in the book.

In chapter 2 we see that there is a clear division between the
narrator and any emotions. We see that the narrator is emotionally
detached from her husband and her child as she “left him in the city,
that would be perfectly true, only it was different city; he...


... middle of paper ...


...ust them, I can’t think
of anyone else I like better, but right now I wish they weren’t
here”. This shows that the narrator is showing her regrets for
bringing them with her reiterating her distrust in them.

We also begin to see the narrators distrust in those who are closest
to her, her family. When she begins to reminisce on the past she
refers to her family with the third person pronoun “they” for example
when she says “they used to go over it as fast a possible” then later
realizes this mistake she is making and states “that won’t work, I
can’t call them ‘they’ as if they were somebody else’s family”.

However the tables are turned as we the readers begin to realize that
it is the protagonist that we are unable to trust. This is due to the
protagonist’s constant self contradictions and self corrections as she
says “my husband, my former husband”.

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