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ENG353 Canadian Fiction - Model Answers for Midterm (Summer 2013).doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Vikki Visvis

Model Answers for ENG353 Midterm Assignment1 Margaret Atwood SurfacingAAmericans The narrator may be discussing America but she could also be using the States as a metaphor for the evil that she finds within herself the evil inherent in the human condition Also it is the complicity of the Canadians in what is happening to them that Atwood emphasizes in Surfacing their willingness to be absorbed into the worldwide materialist consumer society that for her is represented by the Americans whom she evidently blames for first creating that societys false valuesB Quest MotifThe Initiationa Submersion The heart of the narratorsheros initiation occurs at the moment she finds the drawings while submerged underwater The primary image is of descent through space time and water and then a hazardous return to the surface The submersion is a metaphor for the deep exploration of the self particularly the darker dimensions of the self my shadow c Special time place and locationAs is often the case with mythic and legendary heroes there is something special about the time place and person that meet for a crucial instant she looks for the best place to dive It faced east the sun was on it it was the right time of day 140b RaysAs she dives she observes My other shape was in the water not my reflection but my shadow foreshortened outline blurred rays streaming out from around my head 141 The rays are of course literally the ripples of water as she breaks the surface but they are also suggestive of rays emanating around the head of one with godlike powersc Underworld Confronting the Dead In mythic terms we have the integral decent into the underworld where the narrator must face both the dead and her parents And indeed she does the images she sees are carefully linked a dead thing the corpse of her drowned father is at first believed to her to be her drowned brother before she was born then her dead child and finally her own lifeC Confronting her Past The Abortion The dive in this instance is a move deeper and deeper into the psyche This initiation rite in the form of a dive into the depths of the psyche fundamentally begins to integrate the separated elements in the narrators life First it allows her to access her past the past split from her mind Under the water is her drowned father but it is also her drowned past the break in herself She must confront her own lost child it was in a bottle curled up staring at meIt was there when I woke up suspended in the air above me like a chalice an evil grailThat was wrong I never saw it 143 She must realize her guilt and her complicity in the death of her child
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