Themes in The Boat by Alistair MacLeod Essay

Themes in The Boat by Alistair MacLeod Essay

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“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” At some point in life one is faced with a decision which will define the future, but only time will tell whether or not the choice was right or wrong. The Boat by Alistair MacLeod demonstrates that an individual should make their own decisions in life, be open to new experiences and changes, and that there is no way to obtain something, without sacrificing something else.

The story describes the protagonist who is coming of age as torn between the two worlds which he loves equally, represented by his mother and his father. He is now mature and is reflecting on his life and the difficulty of his childhood as a fisherman. Despite becoming a university professor and achieving his father’s dream, he feels lonely and regretful since, “No one waits at the base of the stairs and no boat rides restlessly in the waters of the pier” (MacLeod 261). Like his father, the narrator thinks about what his life could have been like if he had chosen another path. Now, with the wisdom and experience that comes from aging and the passing of time, he is trying to make sense of his own life and accept that he could not please everyone. The turmoil in his mind makes the narrator say, “I wished that the two things I loved so dearly did not exclude each other in a manner that was so blunt and too clear” (MacLeod 273). Once a decision is made, it is sometimes better to leave the past and focus on the present and future. The memories of the narrator’s family, the boat and the rural community in which he spent the beginning of his life made the narrator the person who he is today, but it is just a part of him, and should not consume his present.

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...He is still anchored to his past and transmits the message that one makes their own choices and should be satisfied with their lives. Moreover, the story shows that one should not be extremely rigid and refuse to change their beliefs and that people should be willing to adapt to new customs in order to prevent isolation. Lastly, reader is able to understand that sacrifice is an important part of life and that nothing can be achieved without it. Boats are often used as symbols to represent a journey through life, and like a captain of a boat which is setting sail, the narrator feels that his journey is only just beginning and realizes that everyone is in charge of their own life. Despite the wind that can sometimes blow feverishly and the waves that may slow the journey, the boat should not change its course and is ultimately responsible for completing its voyage.

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