Margaret Atwood's novel 'Surfacing' demonstrates the complex question of identity for an English-speaking Canadian female. Identity, for the protagonist has become problematic because of her role as a victim of colonial forces. She has been colonized by men in the patriarchal society in which she grew up, by Americans and their cultural imperialism, or neo-colonialism as it has come to be known as, and the Euro-centric legacy that remains in her country although the physical presence of English and French rulers have gone. This collective colonial experience of the protagonist, and the analogous nature of imperial and feminist discourses, is succinctly described by Coral Ann Howells, quoted by Eleanora Rao in 'Strategies for Identity',
'Women's experience of the power politics of gender and their problematic relation to patriarchal traditions of authority have affinities with the Canadian attitudes to the cultural imperialism of the United States as well as its ambivalence towards its European inheritors.' (P.xxiv)
Feminist and postcolonialist theories share much common ground due to their examination of the voice, and the position of, the subaltern in society. Their critiques of, and struggles against, domination by the white male has led to their alignment and relevant discussions about their similiar problems, affects and strategies. (It may be of interest to scholars in this area that, since the 1980s, there has emerged a divergent element to feminist postcolonial theory which has focused on the 'double colonization' that women colonized by both race and gender have suffered,...
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...m powerless and because of it nothing I can do will ever hurt anyone. A lie which was always more disastrous than the truth would have been. The word games, the winning and losing games are finished; at the moment there are no others but they will have to be invented, withdrawing is no longer possible. '
Atwood, Margaret. 'Surfacing'. London; Virago Press, 1972.
Aschcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, eds. 'The Post-Colonial Studies Reader'. London; Routledge, 1995.
Atwood, Margaret. 'Survival'. Toronto; House of Anais Press, 1972.
Rao, Eleonora. 'Strategies for Identity: The Fiction of Margaret Atwood'. New York; Peter Lang Publishing, 1993.
Showalter, Elaine. 'Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness'. London; Longman Press, 1989.
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