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In Aritha Van Herk’s “No Fixed Address”, one key symbol surfaces many times. The main character’s name is Arachne, which means spider, and sets the reader up to understand the central symbol in the novel—the spider web. The reader sees several other instances of webs showing up throughout the novel. Arachne’s dependence on the road and her random driving is another form of web in “No Fixed Address”. To tie in Arachne’s driving with webs, we see Thomas’s maps as webs of sorts. The most important web that Arachne is seen to weave is that perverbial web of lies—a person can never escape from that web. In the end, Arachne is indeed caught in her own web, and in the end, she is caught in it.
Arachne, in mythological terms, is the master weaver; the women who pitted herself against a god and lost, thus being turned into a spider. Arachne Mantea is much the same. She is constantly putting herself into categories that she doesn’t belong in. Much of her life, Arachne was certain that she was adopted. Her family seems to be poor, but Arachne could not fit herself into that social class. When she finally meets a family that is of a rich class, she realizes whole-heartedly that she doesn’t belong to that class either. Arachne seems to belong nowhere, almost as if she belongs to that race in the heavenlies—this is her first and most fatal lie. When Arachne ceases to belong to any particular group, she becomes capable of anything. Cheating, stealing, and killing are no longer beneath her. If she doesn’t belong where she is anyway, Arachne doesn’t need to remember her past; she doesn’t need to cope with the things that have happened to her. Thus, Arachne forms lies of denial concerning her past and present actions. She represses the memories of a painful youth, while believing that her whoring around will never catch up with her. She begins to live a lie, and one that eventually gets her. Other aspects of her life mirror the level of lie that she is living. The manner in which she drives shows us more than any other.
When Arachne is merely lying to herself, we see her driving in a relatively small area, and very predictably so. She drives a bus, and in doing so, Arachne has a defined route.
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The idea of webs is obviously a key point in “No Fixed Address”. Arachne is no typical spider, however, because she catches and devours herself. Knowing the liguistic connection between lies and webs is important, as is the mythological reference. Arachne weaves many different kinds of webs, and all of them are directly related ot her web of lies.