In "Surfacing," by Margaret Atwood, the unnamed protagonist acquires a radical perception of reality that is developed through an intense psychological journey on the island that served as her childhood home. Truth can be taken from the narrator's viewpoint, but the reader must explore the inner turmoil plaguing her in order to understand the basis of such beliefs. The narrator's perception of reality can be deemed reliable once all of these factors are understood; however, throughout the novel Atwood develops many unseen connections that are essential to such and understanding. Once the reader is able to understand the basis of the narrator's perception of reality, it is then possible to receive and accept Margaret Atwood's stance on the role of women and nature and, thus, discover the underlying meanings of the novel.
The narrator returns home to an unforgotten place that is gradually being taken over by the diseased culture of the "Americans." At this point in the novel the narrator feels as if she has allowed herself to fall under the control of man and hence has, too, like nature, been a victim of the "American" culture. Although it is not yet clearly evident, it can be inferred when she makes first light of the situation. The baby was "my husband's, he imposed it on me, all the time it was growing in me I felt like an incubator. He measured everything he would let me eat, he was feeding it on me, he wanted a replica of himself." With this in mind, it is quite understandable why the narrator feels contempt towards the "Americans." Perhaps, she relates her husband's masculinity and need to control her to the "Americans" need to disrupt and manipulate nature. Thus, it is hypothesized, that as t...
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...ain with nature. She is now pure.
The narrator's perception of reality is constantly developed throughout the novel. She returns to her childhood home in the same state as she was when she left, but she undergoes a complete transformation in which she discovers the true essence of her reality. Although she becomes psychotic and withdrawn, she eventually arrives at a logical and reliable perception of reality. Nature leads her to the ultimate state of purity and acts as a psychiatrist to pinpoint the torments of her soul. Margaret Atwood uses the narator's experiences during the week at the lake in order to stake the main argument of the book. By relating examples of senseless acts against nature with the defamation of women, Atwood helps the reader understand the problems that are embedded in society and the "American" culture.
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