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The politics of relationships : an examination of Margaret Atwood’s the Edible Woman, Surfacing and Survival Robertson, Esther Mary 1974

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THE POLITICS OF RELATIONSHIPS: AN EXAMINATION OF MARGARET ATWOOD'S THE EDIBLE WOMAN, SURFACING, AND SURVIVAL by Esther Robertson B.A., McGill University, 1965 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 19 74 In p resent ing t h i s thes is in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y sha l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t permission for ex tens ive copying o f t h i s thes is f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head o f my Department or by h is r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t is understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t hes i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain sha l l not be al lowed w i thout my w r i t t e n permiss ion . Depa rtment The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada i i A b s t r a c t In her poetry and n o v e l s , Margaret Atwood e x p l o r e s p o l i t i c a l r e a l -i t i e s i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p s " between women and men, and to a s i g n i -f i c a n t degree her i n s i g h t s i n t o power-patterns are shaped by an a-wareness of the ways i n which people are t r a i n e d by t h e i r s o c i e t y from c h i l d h o o d to h o l d one s e t of a t t i t u d e s toward women and another toward men. Her p o r t r a i t s of women and men, and of the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between them, demonstrate how t h i s double standard has d e s t r u c t i v e consequences f o r both sexes, among them the s u p p r e s s i o n , d e n i a l and eventual atrophy of f e e l i n g , r e s u l t i n g i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s governed not by love but by s u b t l e power-games which are c h a r a c t e r i z e d by i n s e n s i t i v i t y and r u t h l e s s n e s s and i n which men hold the advantage. In S u r v i v a l , Atwood o f f e r s a "map" of Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , and em-phas i z e s the humber of v i c t i m s to be found t h e r e i n and the exte n t to which s u r v i v a l i s a pr e o c c u p a t i o n with Canadian w r i t e r s . An i n -c o n s i s t e n c y i s apparent here, f o r , although she touches upon sex-ism, she does not e x p l o r e the ways i n whic h s e x - r o l e c o n d i t i o n i n g encourages women to p l a y v i c t i m r o l e s . Atwood's own a n a l y s i s of p o l i t i c s i n woman-man r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n the n o v e l s and p o e t r y i s i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h i s omission i n S u r v i v a l ; the f a i l u r e i n t h a t book t o d e a l w i t h the r e a l i t i e s of sexism i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e i n d i c a t e s t h a t Atwood's a n a l y s i s of sexism i s incomplete. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction The Edible Woman; Relationships Among Women; Marian and the Enemy 1 Marian's Relationships with Men 18 >-\;r Marian and Her "Self 3 2 Surfacing; The Unnamed Protagonist and Joe 37 David / Anna 42 Man vs Woman 47 iJpman to Woman 55 The Protagonist vs Herself 62 Survival. .67 A Selected Bibliography iv INTRODUCTION The fact that Margaret Atwood is a woman, writing in Western society in the second half of the twentieth century, has been considered in this thesis as being of ' central importance to her work and i t s reception. Canada in 1974 is s t i l l a patriarchy, with a long patriarchal tradition, and the most recent upsurge of feminist rebellion has yet to make real changes in the struc-tural underpinnings of that society; modern capitalism as we know i t , for example, would no longer exist i f women v/ere entire-ly liberated, depending as i t does upon the unpaid or low-paid labour of women. What this means is that Atwood, a member of an oppressed group, writing books about contemporary Canadian soci-ety, cannot in my opinion be read without reference to the anal-yses of the Women's Liberation Movement and the feminist writings of other periods; hence the bibliography includes a large number of these. It may be argued that to read Atwood with an eye to p o l i t i c a l considerations i s to do her a disservice, to f a i l in sensitivity to her art. But as Survival clearly indicates, At-wood herself regards such p o l i t i c a l r e a l i t i e s as the economic and cultural domination of Canada by the United States as of direct relevance to Canadian art and art i s t s . Art does not exist in a vacuum; i t both reflects and perp etuates values; and just as a black Southerner would be unable to give f u l l credit for artistry ttoa racist aithor, so i t becomes impossible for a mod-ern feminist to be oblivious to sexism in art. On the subject of the radically altered feminist consciousness, Margret Andersen says : Indeed i t i s sometimes quite painful to be a V feminist. When you cannot see Hamlet any-more without giving much of your attention to Ophelia and to the cavalier way in which she is treated by both her father and her lover;...when Camus suddenly is no longer flawless in your eyes because of his failure to see woman other than in her relationship to man, then, indeed, something quite grave has happened...I used to admire Henri Peyre for his work, I s t i l l do, but i t i s an admir-ation mixed with d i s i l l u s i o n and regret. This is not to claim that Atwood is sexist; only that to read a: author of either sex without an awareness of whether their work implies an acceptance and therefore a perpetuation of sexist at titudes i s , ultimately, to contribute to a system that oppresse half i t s members. In "Radical Feminism" Bonnie Kreps distinguishes between . . . (.1) the largely economically oriented (usually Marxist) segment which sees l i b e r -ation for women as part of a so c i a l i s t revo-lution; (2)liberal groups like the National Organization of?; Women.. .working for some kind of integration of women into the main fabric of society; and (3) radical feminism, which chooses to concentrate exclusively on the oppression of women as women and not as workers, students, etc...Its ba sic aim could f a i r l y be stated as, "There shall be no char-acteristics, behaviour, or roles ascribed to any human being on the basis of sex."...we must fight the myth of the so-called 'female' character;...the corrupt notion we now c a l l 'love', which is based on control of another rather than on love for the growth of another; we must fight the institutionalization of the oppression of women - especially the i n s t i t u -tion of marriage...Radical feminism i s called 'radical' because i t is struggling to bring Margret Andersen, Comp., Mother was not a person:(Montreal: Content Publishing Limited and Black Rose Books, 1972), p.88-9 about r e a l l y fundamental changes i n our s o c i e t y . 2 The t h i r d a n a l y s i s , r a d i c a l feminism, i s the one on which I have based my comments about the p o l i t i c s of r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n The Ed-i b l e Woman, S u r f a c i n g , and S u r v i v a l . Of primary importance i n my approach t o Atwood i s the b e l i e f , r i s i n g both from Atwood 1s work and from my own ex p e r i e n c e , t h a t f e e l i n g s and emotions are of p r o f o u n d l y n s d g n i f i c a n t to human l i f e but are t r a g i c a l l y underestimated, denied and downgraded i n pa t -r i a r c h a l s o c i e t y , where l o g i c and reason, supposedly male a t t r i -b utes, are h e l d to be s u p e r i o r t o f e e l i n g ; where r a t i o n a l i n t e l -l i g e n c e i s regarded as more worthwhile and admirable than i n t u i t i o n . Everywhere i n s o c i e t y the d e n i g r a t i o n and s u p p r e s s i o n o f f e e l i n g o t h e r i s e v i d e n t , even i n marriage, the f a m i l y , and p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n -s h i p s , where some f e e l i n g a t l e a s t i s p e r m i t t e d and expressed. The s o - c a l l e d n e g a t i v e emotions - p a i n , s a d n e s s , f e a r , anger e t c . are s o c i a l l y u n a cceptable and t h e r e f o r e denied and suppressed; but a t the same time, a c c o r d i n g tbecerta'in contemporary p s y c h i a -t r i s t s l i k e A r t h u r Janov, our c a p a c i t y f o r f e e l i n g p o s i t i v e emotions i s d i m i n i s h e d . And without the a b i l i t y t o ex p e r i e n c e l o v e and j o y , none of the d i r e c t i o n s t h a t human beings take t o f i n d happiness, peace or f u l f i l l m e n t can l e a d to those g o a l s . 2 Canadian Women's E d u c a t i o n a l P r e s s , Women U n i t e I (Toronto: H e r i t a g e P r e s s , 1972), p. 74-5. V l l In The P r i m a l Scream A r t h u r Janov d i s c u s s e s the damage i n f l i c t e d on people by the s u p p r e s s i o n of f e e l i n g and d e s c r i b e s n e u r o s i s a ...symbolic behaviour i n defense a g a i n s t e x c e s s i v e p s y c h o b i o l o g i c p a i n . N e u r o s i s i s s e l f - p e r p e t u a t i n g because symbolic s a t i s f a c t i o n s cannot f u l f i l l r e a l needs. In o r d e r f o r r e a l needs t o be s a t i s f i e d , they must be f e l t and e x p e r i e n c e d . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , p a i n has caused those needs to be b u r i e d . When-they are b u r i e d , the organism goes i n t o a continuous s t a t e of emergency a l e r t . That a l e r t s t a t e i s t e n s i o n . . . T h i s emergency a l e r t i s n e c e s s a r y t o ensure the i n -f a n t ' s s u r v i v a l ; i f he were to g i v e up hope of ever having h i s needs f u l f i l l e d , he might d i e . The organ-ism c o n t i n u e s to l i v e a t any c o s t , and t h a t c o s t i s u s u a l l y n e u r o s i s - s h u t t i n g down unmet b o d i l y needs and f e e l i n g s because the p a i n i s too g r e a t t o w i t h -stand. 3 U n f u l f i l l e d needs supersede any o t h e r a c t i v i t y i n the human u n t i l they are met. When needs are met, the c h i l d can f e e l . He can e x p e r i e n c e h i s body and h i s environment. When needs are not met, the c h i l d e x p e r i e n c e s o n l y t e n s i o n , which i s f e e l i n g d i s c o n -nected from c o n s c i o u s n e s s . Without t h a t n e c e s s a r y c o n n e c t i o n , the n e u r o t i c does not f e e l . N e u r o s i s i s the pathology of f e e l i n g . N e u r o s i s does not b e g i n a t the i n s t a n t a c h i l d sup-p r e s s e s h i s f i r s t f e e l i n g , but we might say t h a t the n e u r o t i c p r o c e s s does. The c h i l d shuts down i n s t a g e s . Each s u p p r e s s i o n and d e n i a l of need t u r n the c h i l d o f f a b i t more. But one day t h e r e o c c u r s a c r i t i c a l s h i f t i n which the c h i l d i s p r i m a r i l y turned o f f , i n which he i s more un r e a l than r e a l , and a t t h a t c r i t i c a l p o i n t we may judge him to be n e u r o t i c . From t h a t time on, he w i l l o perate on a system of d u a l s e l v e s ; the u n r e a l and r e a l s e l v e s . 4 Janov s t a t e s : "The major reason I have found t h a t c h i l d r e n become n e u r o t i c i s t h a t t h e i r p a r e n t s are too busy s t r u g g l i n g w i t h unmet 5 i n f a n t i l e needs of t h e i r own." He does not e x p l o r e m depth and 3 .Arthur Janov, The P r i m a l Scream: P r i m a l Therapy: The Cure f o r N e u r o s i s (New York: D e l l Pub l i s h i n g Co. Inc.,1970), p. 23. 4 5 I b i d . , p. 24. I b i d . , p. 27 V l l X detail the connections between pain i n f l i c t e d upon infants by their parents and a society which assumes that i f a woman has the neces-sary reproductive organs she i s not only qualified but also obliged (in order to prove herself as a woman) to have children; and this madness persists despite the threats presented by overpopulation to the survival of the human race.. Nor does Janov attempt to assess fcheeconnections between neurotic children and other aspects of motherhood in the patriarchy, such as the fact that although occupations like teaching or healing people are rewarded in our society bytboth money and respect, the occup-ation of raising people i s unpaid, unrewarded, since i t is taken for granted that any idiot can do it.No one would dare to suggest that love is sufficient remuneration for a doctor, lawyer or teach-er. Moreover, raising a child is a full-time occupation in the true sense of the word, since children can not be l e f t alone at a l l during their infancy and only for short periods of time during their later childhood. Nor does Janov wonder i f there v/ould be fewer neurotic children and unfeeling adults i f women had f u l l and un-questioned control over their bodies. However, despite the failure to explore the connections between pain, tension, neurosis, the oppression of women, and sex-role conditioning, Janov does provide a thoroughgoing analysis of the dynamics-and effects of the r denial and suppression of feelings and needs, and that analysis, though i t unfortunately lacks f u l l consciousness of sexism, has been of use in my discussion of Margaret Atwood. The pec u l i a r i t i e s of sex-role conditioning result in the paradox that although patriarchal society operates primarily for the b ene-ix. f i t of men, i n t h i s area i t ends up o p p r e s s i n g men more,, perhaps, than women, who are allowed and even expected to be e m o t i o n a l . Ex-p r e s s i o n s of g r i e f or tenderness i n l i t t l e boys o r men a r e reg a r d e d s u s p i c i o u s l y as p o s s i b l e symptoms of effeminacy, an even more r e -p r e h e n s i b l e tendency i n males ( a c c o r d i n g t o p a t r i a r c h a l c o n d i t i o n i n g ) than s o - c a l l e d masculine t r a i t s l i k e independence and s e x u a l aggres-s i v e n e s s a r e i n women. Yet women too are taught t h a t the s u p p r e s s i o n . of c e r t a i n emotions l i k e anger i s d e s i r a b l e , even n e c e s s a r y . And so i n contemporary North American s o c i e t y , sexism, c a p i t a l i s m , r a c i s m , and ageism converge to produce g e n e r a t i o n a f t e r g e n e r a t i o n o f people who i n e a r l y c h i l d h o o d l e a r n e d t h a t i t i s nece s s a r y t o bury f e e l i n g i n o r d e r t o survive n <^v/ho are t h e r e f o r e to some degree l a c k i n g i n the c a p a c i t y t o l o v e , t o experi e n c e happiness, and to empathise w i t h o t h e r people's p a i n . In her n o v e l s Atwood e x p l o r e s t h i s l a c k i n human-beings, and e x p l o r e s some of the co n n e c t i o n s between s e x — r o l e s t e r e o t y p i n g and people's i n a b i l i t y t o f e e l . Because my p e r s p e c t i v e has been so s t r o n g l y i n f l u e n c e d by r a d i c a l feminism and P r i m a l Theory, most of the c r i t i c a l m a t e r i a l which d e a l s s p e c i f i c a l l y w i t h Margaret Atwood was of minimal d i r e c t r e l e v a n c e t o t h i s t h e s i s . Many of the reviews and a r t i c l e s a re t a i n t e d w i t h sexism, even when they are congratulatory,- A.W. Purdy, f o r example, quotes a s e c t i o n of'The Wereman 1 and then e x c l a i m s : Why, t h a t Moodie b i t c h J I say. There i s n ' t a s c i n t -i l l a , not a j o t or m i l l i g r a m of a f f e c t i o n f o r anyone? but h e r s e l f . . . T h i s I say, knowing Atwood meant t o con-vfeyy something q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . . . t h a t humans a r e un-d e f i n e d as such, they waver i n t o hate and l o v e l i k e ghosts...Whereas I, becoming a v i c a r i o u s female w h i l e r e a d i n g the poem, growl soprano-bass t h a t Moodie should have rushed a f t e r her husband i n t o the dark f o r e s t , a t l e a s t she should have i f she gave a s i n ^ x e damn. "X But she didn't and that's one reason why Moodie is not quite human. On the other hand, I guess most Victorian women f e l t themselves to be only sexual objects (or so books t e l l me, and also certain Victorian female survivals) . . . ° A l l this in response to a few lines in which a husband gets blotted out in a forest. Purdy's protest, qualified by a rather lukewarm afterthought, his i n a b i l i t y to see the poem as, pos-sibly, a wish-fulfillment fantasy, an expression of the kind of hatred or indifference which many women rightly f e e l , in pat-riarchal marriage, toward their husbands, is an indication that he has at best a marginal understanding of what goes on in the minds and hearts of women. One is reminded of Atwood1s cool voice commenting, in a statement to the American publishers of Power  Po l i t i c s , on i t s reception: In general, response divided rather neatly along sex lines, women greeting the book with recogni-tion, men with fear; ten years ago women would probably have ignored and men dismissed i t . Women, both c r i t i c s and ordinary readers, spoke of the book as though i t was about them, about the way i t was; for them i t was r e a l i s t i c . Men tended to use adjectives like 'cruel' and 'jagged' and to see i t either as a display of perversity on my part or as an attack, a conspiracy, a war or an inhumane viv-isection of love, nasty and unfair as cutting up a puppy. Purdy1 s :review of The Animals in That Country contains the same But these are not "women1s poems", not in the way that term is generally applied, anyhow. Certainly 6 A.W. Purdy, "Atwood*s Moddie", rev. of The Journals of-Susanna Moodie, by Margaret Atwood, Canadian Literature, No. 47, Winter, 1971, p. 83. 7 Joan Larkin,"Soul Survivor," rev. of Surfacing, by Margaret At-wood, Ms., May 1973,p.35. x i not about babies, k i t c h e n s i n k s and d i n g -dong husbands.^ Purdy, l i k e any other man or woman r a i s e d i n the p a t r i a r c h y and not deeply committed t o purging themselves of s e x i s t brainwash, s u f f e r s f i r s t from t h a t c o n d i t i o n i n g . Despite what f e e l s , i n the'/^ review, l i k e p ersonal a f f e c t i o n and p r o f e s s i o n a l r e s p e c t , he does say some r a t h e r odd t h i n g s : " . . . ( b e s i d e s , she's a woman, even though h i g h l y i i n t e l l i - r " gent) . . . " 9Len G a s p a r i n i i s even more b l a t a n t than Purdy: Atwood seems concerned w i t h t o n a l e f f e c t , and she o c c a s i o n a l l y sounds l i k e a n a s a l switchboard operator i n a c i t y above sea l e v e l . . . " P a r t of a Day" d i s p l a y s feminine c o n c e i t , the r e s u l t of a decadent democra-cy. Her p o e t i c p l a t f o r m i s too s o p h i s t i c -ated; she echoes the t y p i c a l close-phrase c u l t i s m of Avison & Levertov. Words are charms on a b r a c e l e t i n t h e i r ^ r e a l m , and I f o r g o t t o i n c l u d e MacEwen. George Jonas' remarks r e q u i r e no comment to r e v e a l t h e i r sexism: Miss Atwood 1s novel does lend i t s e l f t o a ki n d of j o u r n a l i s t i c r e d u c t i o n to a crusad-i n g work f o r the r i g h t of women to c a s u a l l y c o p ulate, then z i p up t h e i r pants and lea v e , the way men have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been doing; A.W. Purdy, "Poet Beseiged," rev. of The Animals i n That Country, by Margaret Atwood, Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 39, Winter 1969, p. 94. * 1 0 L e n G a s p a r i n i , Review of The Animals i n That Country, by Margaret Atwood, Canadian Forum, December 1968, p. 212. A.W. Purdy, "Atwood's Moodie," rev. of The J o u r n a l s of Susanna Moodie, by Margaret Atwood, Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 47, Winter 1971,p. 84. x i i or even to. a book-length commiseration with female holders of the high academic distinc-tion of a B.A. who discover that the world does not automatically reward their trained minds with a meaningful and glamourous car-eer. This of course i s not what the book is about, and Miss Atwood w i l l undoubtedly be able to cope with those who admire her work for the wrong reasons. It i s an interesting pattern, in a l l the articles mentioned above, that sexism manifests i t s e l f despite the fact that the articles gen-erally are f u l l of real respect and admiration for Atwood's work. Among the most helpful of the reviews were Joan Harcourt's "Atwood Country", Phyllis Grosskurth's "Victimization or Survival", Joan: Lar= kin's "Soul Survivor" and Frances Davis' review in The Dalhousie Re-view, a l l of which deal with Surfacing with depth and sensitivity. Opinion on the issue of American imperialism, so strong a theme in Atwood, i s divided: Morris Wolfe takes i t for granted as a serious question in Survival, while Don Gutteridge pokes fun at her treatment of i t , and totally misunderstands her suggestion that C anadian art-i s t s become more p o l i t i c a l l y aware and less apathetically prone to early Victim positions and ...try more consciously to create myths we c an live with, ones that w i l l have important p o l i t i c a l conse-quences. What can be said of such a foolish suggestion? As one of our finest poets, Margaret Atwood simply knows better. Myths are disclosed, not promulgated.-^ ^George Jonas,"A Choice of Predators", rev. of The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood, Tamarack Review, No. 54, Winter 1970,p. 76-7. 12 Don Gutteridge, Rev. of Survival, by .Margaret Atwood, Canadian Forum, May, 1973, p. 41. x i i i f It's true. She does know better: Even the things we look at demand our participation, and our commitment: i f this participation and commitment are given, what can result is a "jail-break',' an escape from our old habits of look-ing at things, and a "re-creation", a new way of seeing, experiencing and im-aging - or imagining -_which we ourselves have helped to shape.-13 Margaret Atwood, S u r v i v a l : A Thematic Guide t o Canadian L i t e r -a t u r e : (Toronto: House of Ana n s i P r e s s , Ltd.) p.246. 1. The P o l i t i c s of R e l a t i o n s h i p s ; 'The E d i b l e Woman' a n d * S u r f a c i n g ' I . R e l a t i o n s h i p s among Women: Marian and The Enemy An examination o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p s among women and between women and men i n The E d i b l e Woman r e v e a l s t h a t the q u e s t i o n o f power i s a c r u c i a l f a c t o r in the way the c h a r a c t e r s r e l a t e t o one another. The opening c h a p t e r suggests, s u b t l y but c l e a r l y , t h a t the r e l a t i o n s h i p s Marian MacAlpin has w i t h the o t h e r women i n the n o v e l - h e r roommate A i n s l e y , the l a n d l a d y , and the women w i t h whom she works - have c e r t a i n elements i n common, such as hab-i t u a l concealment o f f e e l i n g s as a way o f d i s g u i s i n g v u l n e r -a b i l i t y . As A i n s l e y and Marian riefee to work on the bus, Marian r e f l e c t s } " . . . A i n s l e y and I don't have much i n common except the l a d y down below, I've o n l y known her s i n c e j u s t b e f o r e we moved i n . . . o n the whole i t ' s worked out f a i r l y w e l l . We get a l o n g by a sy m b i o t i c adjustment o f h a b i t s , and w i t h a minimum of t h a t pale-mauve h o s t i l i t y you o f t e n f i n d among women.' 1 She goes on t o d e s c r i b e the "see-saw arrangement" t h a t they have about housework, mentioning c e r t a i n p o t e n t i a l c o n f l i c t a r e a s , then observes, "By such mutual r e f r a i n i n g s - I assume they are mutual s i n c e t h e r e must be t h i n g s I do t h a t she doesn't l i k e - we manage t o pr e s e r v e a c e r t a i n f r i c t i o n l e s s e q u i l i b r i u m . " (p. 16) The i m p r e s s i o n here i s of a r a t h e r s u p e r f i c i a l , lukewarm Atwood, Margaret, The Edible Woman, McLelland and Stewart, Toronto, Ont. 19^9^ r e l a t i o n s h i p based on l a c k o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g and opepaess, which seems adequate f o r both women but which l e a v e s no room f o r the s h a r i n g o f f e e l i n g s . But the key phrase i s "with a minimum of t h a t pale-mauve h o s t i l i t y you o f t e n f i n d among women." With t h i s v i v i d image Atwood not only d e s c r i b e s a c h r o n i c emotional c o n d i t i o n i n c o n v e n t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s among women but a l s o f o c u s s e s on the h a b i t u a l d e n i a l , o f f e e l -i n g s , both i n Marian h e r s e l f and i n her c o n t a c t s w i t h o t h e r people, e s p e c i a l l y women. I f Marian's s n i d e unspoken o b s e r -v a t i o n s about A i n s l e y are any i n d i c a t i o n , there i s a c o n s i -d e r a b l e degree o f "pale-mauve h o s t i l i t y " between them, o n l y i t i s kept more or l e s s hidden, s i n c e t o r e v e a l i t would no doubt i n v i t e r e t a l i a t i o n . " A i n s l e y r a i s e d her almost non-e x i s t e n t eyebrows, which hadn't been c o l o u r e d i n y e t t h a t morning." (p. 12) "She had on her orange and pin k s l e e v e l e s s d r e s s , which I judged was too t i g h t a c r o s s the h i p s . " (p. 14) Th i s automatic concealment o f f e e l i n g s i s coupled w i t h and i n t i m a t e l y r e l a t e d t o the s h i f t s i n the balance o f power be-tween the two women. At b r e a k f a s t , A i n s l e y "had a hangover, which put me i n a c h e e r f u l mood." (p. 11) "I got so caught up i n b e i n g e f f i c i e n t f o r A i n s l e y ' s b e n e f i t w h i l e compliment-i n g myself on my moral s u p e r i o r i t y *o her t h a t I d i d n ' t r e a l i z e how l a t e i t was u n t i l she reminded me." (p. 12) Marian's sense o f h a v i n g the advantage on t h i s o c c a s i o n assumes the form of a pseudo-maternal s o l i c i t u d e , an a c c e p t a b l e d i s g u i s e f o r her s a t i s f a c t i o n a t b e i n g h e a l t h i e r and hence more p o w e r f u l . L a t e r i n the day, as they walk from the subway s t a t i o n t o C l a r a ' s house, Marian c o n s i d e r s v a r i o u s s u b j e c t s she c o u l d t a l k about w i t h A i n s l e y , and both of these - the Pension Plan and the d i s -a s t e r o f matrimony which has overtaken P e t e r ' s f r i e n d T r i g g e r -r e l a t e d i r e c t l y to what Marian i s r e a l l y feeling»*fear and uncer-t a i n t y about her f u t u r e . But she i s bl o c k e d by the c o n v i c t i o n t h a t a i n s l e y w i l l be amused o r uncomprehending, so she r e s o r t s t o e n q u i r i n g about A i n s l e y ' s h e a l t h , but A i n s l e y i s n ' t h a v i n g any; ••Don't, be so concerned, Marian,' 0 she s a i d , * You. make me f e e l l i k e an i n v a l i d . * I was h u r t and d i d n ' t answer." (p.30) Although Marian h a b i t u a l l y d i s s i m u l a t e s , and, on o c c a s i o n , man-i p u l a t e s people f o r her own ends, she i s i n d i g n a n t when A i n s l e y , d i s g u i s e d as an a d o l e s c e n t , appears a t the Park P l a z a Bar where she i s h a v i n g d r i n k s w i t h P e t e r and Len Slank. "I was f u r i o u s w i t h A i n s l e y . She had put me i n a v e r y awkward p o s i t i o n . I c o u l d e i t h e r g i v e the game away...or I c o u l d keep s i l e n t and p a r t i c -i p a t e i n tohat amounted t o a f r a u d . " (p. 6 7 ) "I knew t h a t i f I i n t e r f e r e d I would be b r e a k i n g an unspoken code, and t h a t A i n s l e y was sure t o get back a t me some way through P e t e r . She was c l e v e r a t such t h i n g s . " (p. 6 8 ) To Marian, a deception, o f t h i s s o r t i s u n e t h i c a l , though she r e a d i l y p a r t i c i p a t e d i n a . s i m i l a r d e c e p t i o n o f her l a n d l a d y , when A i n s l e y masqueraded as a young i n n o c e n t g i r l - "On t h i s o c c a s i o n I had even got her t o v/ear g l o v e s . " (p . 1 5 ) Though Marian had been unable t o summon up s u f f i c i e n t e m o t i o n a l energy t o be e n t e r t a i n i n g and s u p p o r t i v e w i t h C l a r a , she i s now f u l l o f p r o t e c t i v e m o r a l i t y about Len Slank, d e s p i t e the f a c t t h a t he i s l e s s than admirable i n h i s d e a l i n g s w i t h women, and even i n s u l t s h e r p e r s o n a l l y , as w e l l as other members o f her sex. Marian and A i n s l e y share a mutual m i s t r u s t o f one another's motives and p l a n s . When A i n s l e y announces her i n t e n t i o n to have "an i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d i n c o l d b l o o d " (p. 42), as Marian des-c r i b e s i t , Marian f e e l s c y n i c a l and u n s e t t l e d . A i n s l e y responds i n a s i m i l a r way t o her announcement o f h e r engagement t o P e t e r . p f f W e l l , i f I were you I'd get ma r r i e d i n the S t a t e s , i t ' l l be so much e a s i e r t o get a d i v o r c e when you need one. I mean, you don't r e a l l y know him, do you?...I don't t h i n k you know what you're do-i n g . * "(p. 84) Moreover, they r e g a r d one another's a c t i v i t i e s as m o r a l l y d i s r e p u t a b l e } " . . . n e i t h e r was t o i n t e r f e r e w i t h the o t h e r ' s t r a t e g y , though i t was understood t h a t each d i s a p p r o v e d o f the o t h e r ' s course o f a c t i o n on moral grounds." (p. 122) Between Marian and her l a n d l a d y the e x e r c i s e o f power i s much more obvious. Alan Dawe i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n t o the n o v e l p o i n t s out t h a t ".,,even the most comic...scenes of The E d i b l e Woman have an element o f t e r r o r t o them." (p. 5) On her way t o work, Marian descends the two f l i g h t s of s t a i r s between her apartment and the f r o n t door as i f she i s moving through a danger zone, making i t " s a f e l y " down the f i r s t f l i g h t and a v o i d i n g the ob-j e c t s on the l a n d i n g s and w a l l s as i f they r e p r e s e n t some r e a l p e r i l , which i n a sense they do, b e i n g symbolic o f the l a n d l a d y ' s t e r r i t o r i a l advantage as w e l l as of the r a t h e r s i n i s t e r p r e s s u r e s of t r a d i t i o n . " . . . I c o u l d hear the c h i l d p e r f o r m i n g h e r morning penance a t the piano. I thought I was s a f e . But b e f o r e I reached the door i t swung s i l e n t l y inward upon i t s h i n g e s , and I knew I was trapped. I t was the lady down below. She was...carrying a trowel/ I wondered who she'd been burying i n the garden." (p.13) Like Marian, who does not simply announce her intention to go to work immediately, the landlady hd^ "an i n d i r e c t way of going about things." (p.13) During the exchange that follows, the landlady smiles "sweetly" and Marian smiles repeatedly, although she i s be-ing accused of almost s e t t i n g f i r e to the house. After she escapes to the bus stop she t e l l s Ainsley "She got me in-the hall." (p. 14) and Ainsley*s reaction suggests that the landlady avoids her and Confronts Marian not because the l a t t e r i s "more respectable" but because Ainsley i s more l i k e l y to express anger. In Marian's rec-o l l e c t i o n s of the day they rented the apartment, the same elements of emotional camouflage are present, Marian hides her f e e l i n g s j u s t as Ainsley says she chooses clothes, "as though they're a camouflage or a protective colouring, though I can't see awy^ fki'» wrong with that." (p. 1*0 The incident with Mrs. Grot and the Pension Plan (p.20-21) focus-ses on c e r t a i n f a c t o r s which w i l l be operative throughout the r e s t of the novel* Marian's f e a r and d i s l i k e of older women, her sense of powerlessness i n her dealings with them, which i s at l e a s t i n part the r e s u l t of d i s g u i s i n g her fe e l i n g s - "I signed, but a f t e r Mrs. Grot had l e f t I was suddenly quite depressed? i t bothered me more than i t should have." (p.21) - and, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , her un-c e r t a i n t y about her future and the r e s u l t i n g fear? "A pension. I foresaw a bleak room with a plug-in e l e c t r i c heater,, Perhaps I would have a hearing aid, l i k e one of my great-aunts who had never married. I would t a l k to myself j children would throw snowballs 6. at me. I t o l d myself not to be s i l l y , the world would probably irlow up between now and then..." (p.21) In t h i s passage Atwood evokes the fear of lonely poverty-ridden old age with c h i l l i n g accuracy; the bleakness, lack of warmth and love, sensory de-pr i v a t i o n and p o t e n t i a l craziness; and beneath the humour i s a d i s t i n c t l y ominous note. The dry, offhand, devastating p o r t r a i t of the three o f f i c e v i r -gins (p.22) expresses Marian's and Ainsley's d i s d a i n f u l sense of s u p e r i o r i t y to them and contains some hint of "pale-mauve h o s t i l i t y " , though t h i s i s muted, probably because the three a r t i f i c i a l blondes with saccharine names are p o t e n t i a l l y not very threatening, being so pathetic. In t h i s b r i e f h i l a r i o u s d e s c r i p t i o n of the conversation of fl^e*women at lunch, Atwood suggests the mistrust, animosity and competitiveness between women trained to r e l a t e to one another only as antagonists i n a genteel, deadly b a t t l e f o r p o s i t i o n on the pecking order of feminine d e s i r a b i l i t y . Both i n her personal l i f e and at work Marian's exchanges with women are i n d i r e c t , ambiguous; she e i t h e r i n i t i a t e s these men-oevers and sets t h e i r tone, or t a c i t l y assents to them by p a r t i c i p a t i n g without objection. She i s p e r f e c t l y w ell aware that Mrs. Bogue adopts a ce r t a i n facade f o r purposes of mani-pulation - "Mrs. Bogue has a f r i e n d l y , almost cosy manner which equips her p e r f e c t l y f o r dealing with the interviewers, and she i s at her most genial when she wants something." (p.25) but she goes a l o n g w i t h t h i s out o f g u i l t - "My l a t e n e s s t h a t morning had g i v e n her l e v e r a g e . " (p.25) S i m i l a r l y , when Lucy askes her t o w r i t e a l e t t e r f o r her, Marian i s aware t h a t "She was p l a y -i n g on my sympathies." (p. 28) Again she goes a l o n g w i t h i t , and s i t s down t o w r i t e a r e p l y to a customer who had complained o f f i n d i n g a h o u s e f l y i n a box of r a i s i n c e r e a l . "The main t h i n g , I knew, was to a v o i d c a l l i n g the h o u s e f l y by i t s a c t u a l name." (p.28) T h i s c o m i c a l i n c i d e n t o f the h o u s e f l y among.the r a i s i n s i s symbolic o f the exchanges between Marian and the o t h e r women c h a r a c t e r s i n the n o v e l , which tend t o be s u p e r f i c i a l l y sweet w i t h u n p l e a s a n t and d i s c o r d a n t elements. Even when.Marian encount-e r s a woman who i s r e a s o n a b l y honest, as C l a r a i s , she hedges and d i s s i m u l a t e s . Again she a l l o w s h e r s e l f , out o f g u i l t , t o be t a l k e d i n t o d o i n g something she doesn't r e a l l y want to d o s h e i s "con-s c i o u s of h a v i n g n e g l e c t e d h e r . " (p.28) Then she proceeds t o man-i p u l a t e A i n s l e y i n t o accompanying her. In the washroom she meets the three, o f f i c e v i r g i n s * * ''Going out t o - n i g h t , Marian?" Lucy asked, too c a s u a l l y . She shared my telephone l i n e and n a t u r a l l y knew about P e t e r . "Yes,"I s a i d , w i t h o u t v o l u n t e e r i n g i n f o r m a t i o n . T h e i r w i s t f u l c u r i o s i t y made me nervous.*; (p.29) Again, a s u p e r f i c i a l l y t r i v i a l exchange masks envious c u r i o s i t y , c o v e r t r i v a l r y , a n i m o s i t y - and, on Marian's s i d e , v a n i t y . She does n o t s i m p l y say t h a t she's g o i n g w i t h A i n s l e y to a marrwied f r i e n d ' s house f o r d i n n e r , b u t m a i n t a i n s her advantage by a l l o w -i n g them t o t h i n k she's g o i n g out w i t h Peter, With huntour and remarkable economy, Atwood has p r e s e n t e d f o u r d i f f e r e n t encounters between women, which, though a p p a r e n t l y ^ t r i v i a l , are c h a r a c t e r i z e d by devi o u s n e s s , m a n i p u l a t i o n , e x p l o i t -a t i o n and i n s i n c e r i t y , as w e l l as a £§t;<n£li3z episode - the r a i s i n and h o u s e f l y problem - which i s symbolic o f them a l l . Marian seems t o percaeve and r e l a t e t o women l e s s as i n d i v i d u a l s than as r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f her own a l t e r n a t i v e s ? she i s n o t sure she wants t o become a Mrs. Bogue, she f e e l s t h r e a t e n e d by Mrs. Grot and the Pension P l a n , and she i s so p r e o c c u p i e d w i t h C l a r a ' s appearance and c h a o t i c l i f e t h a t she f i n d s i t i m p o s s i b l e t o be warm and s u p p o r t i v e towards her. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t she i s n o t co n s c i o u s o f s e e i n g C l a r a as the embodiment of a p o s s i b l e f u t u r e f o r h e r s e l f i she and A i n s l e y both take refuge i n f e e l i n g s o f sup-e r i o r i t y ; " C l a r a s i mply had no p r a c t i c a l i t y , she wasn't a b l e t o c o n t r o l the more mundane a s p e c t s o f l i f e , l i l ( e money o r g e t t i n g to l e c t u r e s on time. "(p.3 6 ) "She sho u l d get o r g a n i z e d . " ( p . 3 8 ) Yet she defends C l a r a when A i n s l e y a t t a c k s her, and i s annoyed t h a t h er oommate cannot see C l a r a ' s p o s i t i o n , which,, i n f a c t , i s a l l t h a t Marian h e r s e l f s e e s . On h e r way t o v i s i t C l a r a a t the h o s p i t a l , Marian ."wondered whether they would be a b l e t o produce, between them, t h i r t y minutes' worth of c o n v e r s a t i o n . " (p.127) I t i s t r u e t h a t she i s a l i e n a t e d from C l a r a by her own g u i l t , b u t there i s more t o i t than t h a t . On the s u b j e c t o f h a v i n g a baby, she t h i n k s , "Of course i t was something she had always planned t o do, e v e n t u a l l y ; and P e t e r had begun t o make remarks wi t h p a t e r n a l undertones. But i n t h i s room w i t h these white-sheeted o u t s t r e t c h e d women the p o s s i b i l i t y was suddenly much too c l o s e . And then there was A i n s l e y . " (p.129) "More and more. Clara's l i f e seemed cut o f f from her, set apart, something she could only gaze at through a window. "'What are you going to c a l l her/ she asked, repressing a desire to shout, npt quite sure whether Cl a r a would be able,to hear her through the glass." (p.129) Marian h e r s e l f has erected the pane of glass i n a strenuous but only p a r t l y suc-c e s s f u l attempt to deny any r e l a t i o n s h i p between Clara's l i f e and her own i n t e n t i o n to marry Peter. She i s employing a standard psy-c h o l o g i c a l dodge, ' I t can't happen to me', and d i s t r a c t s h e r s e l f from he r . r e a l f e e l i n g of i n d i f f e r e n c e toward babies (she doesn't go to see Clara's baby and i s t o t a l l y uninterested i n Ainsley's pregnancy) and reassures h e r s e l f by saying, "And there's no reason why our marriage should turn out l i k e Clara's. Those two aren'jj p r a c t i c a l enough, they have no sense at a l l of how to manage, how to run a well-organized marriage." (p. 102) By means of a l l t h i s side-stepping of her own fear, Marian i n e f f e c t denies h e r s e l f the b e n e f i t of a l e a r n i n g experience with Clara, who i s remarkably honest most of the time. M a r i a n ' i s the v i c t i m of one of the most e f f e c t i v e and destructive teachings i n s e x i s t s o c i e t y ; that only men are r e a l l y capable of educating women. When Ainsley asks Joe about Len,Slank, he remarks that Len i s " r e a l l y a f r i e n d of Clara's." (p.35) "But what do you think of himi'" Ainsley asked, as though appealing to his superior i n t e l l i g e n c e . " (p. 35) Marian i s the dupe of the subtle yet powerful notion that men are somehow more aware and i n t e l l i g e n t than women; she i s more interested i n the motives and complexities of men, she i s suspicious and mildly contemptuous of women, and she denies the relevance of women's experience to her own feafe, thereby c u t t i n g h e r s e l f o f f from a 10. c r u c i a l l y important area of knowledge, e s p e c i a l l y at t h i s point i n her l i f e when she i s beginning to worry about her future. At the same time, she denies the v a l i d i t y of her own f e e l i n g s , per-ceptions and experience as a woman, f o r i f one i n v a l i d a t e s and denies the experience of the group one belongs to, then i n e v i t a b l y , to some extent, one in v a l i d a t e s and denies one's own experience. Complacently Marian assures h e r s e l f , "Boor Clara, she was the l a s t person whose advice would be worth anything. Look at the mess she had blundeared i n t o ; three childr e n at her age. Peter and she were going into i t with f a r fewer i l l u s i o n s . I f Clara.had s l e p t with Joe before marriage she would have been much better able to cope a f t e r -wards." (p.131) (This l a s t i s a blatant r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n ? since only Clara's problems appear to be sexual^insofar as babies are sometimes the r e s u l t of sex, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to see how Marian can believe that sex before marriage could have mitigated the d i f f i c u l t i e s . ) In her determination to recognize no connection,between Clara's l i f e and her engagement to Peter, Marian f e e l s only embarrassment when C l a r a expresses love f o r Joe; and although o b j e c t i v e l y i t can be said that romantic i d e a l i s t i c love i s not a p a r t i c u l a r l y sound basis f o r marriage, Marian's common sense attitude towatd Peter i s c h i l l i n g because i t i s based wholly on r a t i o n a l motives and i s much more akin to the sensible attitude one could adopt when buying a house or a car (as h i s i s to her) than i o love of any v a r i e t y . People often f e e l more warmth and closeness i n fr i e n d s h i p than Marian and Peter do in t h e i r engagement, yet Marian, involved as she i s i n her denial of f e e l i n g s , her own and other people's, manages to ignore the f a c t that C l a r a and Joe 11. might have more going f o r them than she and Peter. As she leaves, Marian inwardly continues her evasion of C l a r a i " I t struck her as she went out that door that there had "been something i n Clara's manner, e s p e c i a l l y i n the s l i g h t l y worried twist of her eyebrows once or twice, that had expressed concern; but concern about what ex-, a c t l y , she didn't know and couldn't stop to puzzle over. She held the sense of having escaped, as i f from a c u l -v e r t or cave. She was gldd she wasn't Clara." (p.132) And yet, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , she turns to Clara i n her anxiety about not being able to eat c e r t a i n foods, and t h i s , l i k e her g u i l t about not being supportive and understanding enough, i s an i n -d i c a t i o n that at some l e v e l she i s aware of C l a r a as a person, even though not much of that awareness operates i n her behaviour towards her. As i t happens, Clara's response to her question, "Am I normal?" i s conventional enough; i n f a c t , i t reveals one of the reasons f o r women's mistrust of one another. Cl a r a t e l l s her that s h e ' l l get over i t (which i s exactly what M i l l i e s a i d (p.24) when Marian expressed anxiety about the Pension. Plain) and though Marian f e e l s temporarily reassured, t h i s i s the same; kind of d e n i a l as t e l l i n g a c h i l d that her problem i s just a phase. Dur-ing t h i s conversation, Clara i s seated i n the playpen with her daughter E l a i n e . She t e l l s Marian that Elaine doesnH l i k e the playpen and that she's helping her get used to i t , which i s not unlike what she then proceeds to do <arith Marian, who i s exper-iencing her body's symbolic r e j e c t i o n of Peter, marriage and motherhood. From inside the ostensibly innocent playpen, which i s symbolic of * the prison of her r o l e of wife and mother, Clara t e l l s Marian tha'E s h e ' l l get over i t , just as she probably t e l l s E l a ine that s h e ' l l get over not l i k i n g the playpen, her prison. . 12. At Peter*s party, a conversation takes place between* Marian and Joe which very c l e a r l y demonstrates the differences between Mar-ian's responses to women and men. Joe analyzes C l a r a t ""I worry about her a l o t , you know...I think i t ' s a l o t harder f o r her than f o r most other women; I think i t ' s harder f o r any worn^n who's been to u n i v e r s i t y . She gets the idea she has a mind, her professors pay attention to what she has to say, they treat her l i k e " a thinking human being; when she gets married, her core gets invaded...Her feminine role and her core a r e - r e a l l y i n opposition, her feminine r o l e demands p a s s i v i t y from her..." (p. 235) • .., He goes on to prpose a solutions "Maybe women shouldn't be a l -lowed to go to u n i v e r s i t y at a l l ; then they wouldn't always be f e e l i n g l a t e r on that they've missed out on the l i f e of the mind." (p.236) What Joe has just said i s , i n f a c t , appalling; he has described what amounts to the destruction of a human being, and, as the so l u t i o n to a d i s a s t e r which overtakes many women, he suggests that women should not be 'allowed* to go to u n i v e r s i t y . Yet Marian, who knows Clara well enough to r e a l i z e that, what he has said - that her "core" has been "invaded" - i s true, and who has h e r s e l f experienced g u i l t about Clara, is^reassured by a glimpse of Clara on the other side of the room making an emphatic gesture, and wonders "whether Joe had ever t o l d C l a r a her core had been invaded." (p. 236), as i f Clara.wouldn't notice unless^Joe brought i t to her attention. Marian f a i l s to respond even to Joe's tel&tale use of the word "allowed".In-stead, "She wanted to reach out and touch him, reassure him, t e l l him Clara's core hddn't r e a l l y been destroyed, and every-thi n g would be a l l r i g h t ; she wanted to give him something. 13. She t h r u s t forward the p l a t e she was h o l d i n g . "Have an o l i v e " , she s a i d . " (p.236) Marian's r e a c t i o n s and b e h a v i o u r . i n t h i s passage are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ! she i s prevented by her a t t i t u d e , t o w a r d women from i d e n t i f y i n g w i t h C l a r a and f e e l i n g compassion and. concern f o r her, and, even when Joe d e s c r i b e s e x p l i c i t l y the e f f e c t of marriage and motherhood upon many women, she f a i l s to make the c o n n e c t i o n between t h a t danger and h e r engagement t o P e t e r . Her emotional energy i s c h a n n e l l e d b y ; s e x i s t a t t i t u d e s toward the man; i t . i s . f o r him t h a t she f e e l s compassion and concern, even though Clara-needs support more than Joe does. And, t y p i c a l l y , Marian does not exp r e s s her f e e l i n g s , b u t i n s t e a d o f f e r s him an o l i v e s Nowhere i n the n o v e l i s Marian's f e e l i n g of r e v u l s i o n toward women more e x p l i c i t than i n the d e s c r i p t i o n o f the Christmas o f f i c e p a r t y . Seen through Marian's eyes, the women are absurd, r a t h e r d i s g u s t i n g , and inane. They are h y p o c r i t i c a l - 'From time t o time one of another o f the l a d i e s would s h r i e k , "Oh, Dorothy, I .just have t o t r y some o f your Orange-Pineapple D e l i g h t J " o r "Lena, your L u s c i o u s F r u i t Sponge l o o k s j u s t scrummy!"'(p.162) Apparently, Marian's f e e l i n g s o f d i s g u s t and d i s l i k e are shared by the o t h e r women, f o r they r e -member h a p p i e r days; " . . . t h e r e was a memory, f a s t f a d i n g t o legend, o f . . . f a r - o f f days when the men u p s t a i r s had come v.. down, and they even had d r i n k s . . . M r s . Gundridge had v o l u n t e e r e d e a r l i e r t h a t a f t e r n o o n t h a t i t was a l o t c o m f i e r t h i s way anyhow, j u s t a l l us g i r l s here t o g e t h e r , a comment which had produced g l u t i n o u s mur-murs of a s s e n t . " (p.163) C o n v e r s a t i o n i s s u p e r f i c i a l ; i t r e v o l v e s around " a i l m e n t s and b a r g a i n s " , c h i l d r e n , homes and f u r n i s h i n g s , and the "nasty h a b i t s " of husbands. Then, t r i g g e r e d by the word 14. "immature", Marian begins t o l o o k more c l o s e l y a t the women around her, s e e i n g them i n terms of t h e i r v a r y i n g degrees of r i p e n e s s , l i k e f r u i t o r v e g e t a b l e s . "You weree green and then you r i p e n e d j became mature. Dresses f o r the mature f i g u r e . In o t h e r words, f a t . " (p.166) "They were r i p e , some r a p i d l y becoming o v e r r i p e , some al«* ready b e g i n n i n g to s h r i v e l ; she thought o f them as a t t a c h e d by stems a t the tops o f t h e i r heads t o an i n v i s i b l e v i n e , hanging t h e r e i n v a r i o u s s t a g e s o f growth o r decay..."(p.166) G a z i n g a t the women's b o d i e s , Marian sees t h e i r grotesque and hideous a s -p e c t s ; and she has a moment of p a n i c as she r e a l i z e s t h a t she i s a woman too, n o t u n l i k e the women s h e . i s l o o k i n g a t w i t h so much l o a t h i n g . l t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t her r e a c t i o n t o , t h i s i s t o want P e t e r to appear and rescue h e r from t h i s " t h i c k s a r g a s s o - s e a o f f e m i n i n i t y . " The moment of p a n i c i s broken by Mrs. Bogue's an-nouncement of Marian's engagement, i m p l i c i t i n which i s the an-anouncement t h a t M a r i a n * w i l l l o s e h er job; "Newly-weds, she had been heard t o say, were i n c l i n e d t o be u n s t a b l e . " (p.168) At t h i s p l a c e o f work, as a t most o t h e r s , the u s u a l rhythms o f a woman's l i f e , i n c l u d i n g marriage and c h i l d b e a r i n g , are a l i a b i l i t y . There i s no s i g n i f i c a n t change i n the q u a l i t y o f the r e l a t i o n -s h i p s between the women throughout The E d i b l e Woman. Marian and A i n s l e y c o n t i n u e t o i n t e r a c t i n the emo t i o n a l c l i m a t e o f c o o l c r i t i c a l m i s t r u s t which i s almost i n e v i t a b l e i n a s i t u a t i o n where the people i n v o l v e d see one another only as p o t e n t i a l r i v a l s . The o n l y scene where they are seen t o g e t h e r i n any s o r t of c o - o p e r a t i v e e f f o r t i s b e f o r e P e t e r ' s p a r t y when A i n s l e y 15. p u t s Marian's makeup on f o r her. Here the two women are more o r l e s s u n i t e d i n making Marian l o o k u n r e a l , as though ghe; o n l y p r e s s u r e s u f f i c i e n t to b r i n g women t o g e t h e r i s the o c c a s i o n a l need t o a s s i s t one another i n d i s g u i s i n g themselves t o l o o k l i k e the s t e r e o t y p i c a l p l a s t i c wom^n of magazine covers, and b i l l b o a r d s , which, a c c o r d i n g , t o s e x i s t mythology o f the t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y , i s , t o men, the most d e s i r a b l e woman. While they are i n v o l v e d i n d r e s s i n g f o r the p a r t y , the l a n d l a d y a r r i v e s t o c a s t i g a t e A i n s l e y about Len Sl a n k ' s o v e r n i g h t s t a y , and Marian f e e l s no i n c l i n a t i o n t o be s u p p o r t i v e o f A i n s l e y , b u t " f e l t s a f e l y remotedfrom t h i s new c o m p l i c a t i o n . " (p.224-) As i t happens A i n s l e y does n o t r e a l l y need h e r supp o r t , anywayf she i s s t r o n g p a r t l y because she can express her anger f r e e l y . At no p o i n t throughout the n o v e l i s th e r e any i n d i c a t i o n o f warmth o r u n d e r s t a n d i n g between the two women; the most amiable f e e l i n g Marian has toward h e r roommate c o n s i s t s &f b e i n g " p l e a s e d w i t h h er f o r j u s t i f y i n g my sup e r -s t i t i o u s b e l i e f i n her a b i l i t y t o take care of herself."(p.2?9)» which i s i r o n i c because what A i n s l e y has done i s found someone t o take care of h e r . The o f f i c e v i r g i n s , seen from Marian's p e r s p e c t i v e , c o n t i n u e t o ep i t o m i z e a p a r t i c u l a r l y t r a n s p a r e n t and p a t h e t i c p u r s u i t - s i n g l e minded husband-hunting - which Marian and A i n s l e y are a l s o i n -v o l v e d i n , b u t which they n e v e r t h e l e s s manage t o f e e l s u p e r i o r t o . Marian never does i d e n t i f y w i t h C l a r a ; h er l a s t c o n t a c t with her i n t h e . n o v e l i s a telephone c o n v e r s a t i o n d u r i n g which C l a r a e x p r e s s e s concern over Len's r e g r e s s i v e b e h a v i o u r . A f t e r she 16. hangs up the phone, Marian r e f l e c t s c o o l l y t h a t "...she had sound-ed more competent than u s u a l . " ( p . 2 8 0 ) , and the i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h i s , beneath the humour, are c h i l l i n g ? one i s reminded o f Dunc-an's warning - "Flor e n c e N i g h t i n g l e was..'.a c a n n i b a l , you know." (p. 2 0 0 ) , In f a c t , nowehere d u r i n g the c*;n*e«re4&ion i s there any s i g n of honesty o r mutual u n d e r s t a n d i n g between any of the woman c h a r a c t e r s . T h e i r exchanges are c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s u b t l e power-games, mutual m i s t r u s t and r i v a l r y . At P e t e r ' s p a r t y , the p a t t e r n i s c l e a r . When the t h r e e o f f i c e v i r g i n s a r r i v e , one by one, "each seemed annoyed t h a t the o t h e r s had been i n v i t e d . " though d u r i n g the i work week they always seem t o be t o g e t h e r . They exchange t h e . s t a n d a r d s o c i a l remarks, which are t o t a l l y i n s i n c e r e - "Each of them s a i d i n a p e c u l i a r , t o n e o f v o i c e t h a t Marian s h o u l d wear red.more o f t e n . " (p.232) and spend, the r e s t o f t h e i r time i n misery ...over the mat-i n g game. "Every time there was a knock a t the door the t h r e e o f f i c e v i r g i n s s w i v e l l e d t h e i r heads towards the entrance? and every time they saw another s u c c e s s f u l and g l i t t e r i n g w i f e s t e p i n t o the room w i t h her s l e e k husband, they turned back, a l i t t l e more f r a n t i c , / t o t h e i r d r i n k s and t h e i r i n t e r c h a n g e o f s t r a i n e d comments." (p.233) The p a r t y c o n t i n u e s i n t h i s v e i n . At one p o i n t Marian glimpses P e t e r and Lucy t a l k i n g i n the bedroom, and when P e t e r sees h e r he s m i l e s g u i l t i l y . Marian t h i n k s how t o u c h i n g and p a t h e t i c i t i s of Lucy t o t r y f o r P e t e r i " A f t e r a l l P e t e r was o f f the market almost as d e f i n i t e l y as i f he was a l r e a d y m a r r i e d . " (p.238) When Len pours beer over A i n s l e y , " S e v e r a l of the soap-wives t r o t t e d over, u t t e r i n g t h r o a t y c o o i n g n o i s e s , eager t o share 17. the s p o t l i g h t by h e l p i n g , " (p.24-) - not, of course, t o o f f e r sympathy or h e l p . What emerges from a l l t h i s i s a comic p o r t r a i t of.Woman, d e v a s t -a t i n g i n i t s s a t i r e and r e a l i s m , but w i t h r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e c l e a r i n d i c a t i o n as t o why the women behave so e x e c r a b l y towards one another. Moreover, because the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the women are undeveloped, what i s i m p l i e d i s t h a t t h i s i s the s t a t e o f a f f a i r s w i t h women, p e r i o d . But the s i t u a t i o n Atwpod i s d e s c r i b -i n g i s the r e s u l t of c o n d i t i o n i n g i n s e x i s t s o c i e t y , which t r a i n s women from an e a r l y age t o b e l i e v e they are i n f e r i o r , and s h o u l d have as t h e i r primary g o a l i n l i f e the a c q u i s i t i o n o f husband and c h i l d r e n . Among the e f f e c t s of t h i s c o n d i t i o n i n g , a l o n g w i t h d i s -c r i m i n a t i o n a t work and i n the media (which Atwood touches on b r i e f l y ) i s an i n a b i l i t y among most women t o p e r c e i v e themselves and one another as worftlbwhile i n d i v i d u a l s , and t o deve l o p c l o s e human r e l a t i o n s h i p s with each o t h e r , which would be a form of s t r e n g t h . T h i s weakens women both p e r s o n a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y . So a q u e s t i o n a r i s e s : s i n c e n o v e l s are a l s o c o n d i t i o n i n g agents, i s i t enough simply t o r e c o r d , even s a t i r i c a l l y , the c o n d i t i o n s of s e x i s t s o c i e t y ? I f a r e a d e r i s unaware of the reasons f o r the women's b e h a v i o u r towards one another and i s i n f e c t e d w i t h t h a t s u b t l e unconscious contempt which sexism i n s t i l l s i n people toward women, would The E d i b l e Woman not c o n f i r m h i s / h e r o p i n i o n of women - t h a t they are a s i l l y , c ontemptible l o t who converse about t r i v i a , despise/one another, and care only about c l o t h e s , men, and b a b i e s ? 18. 11. Marian's R e l a t i o n s h i p s with Men> In her r e l a t i o n s h i p s with women, Marian h a b i t u a l l y c o n c e a l s her f e e l i n g s , and her emotional d i s h o n e s t y a l s o operates i n her r e -l a t i o n s h i p s with men, e s p e c i a l l y P e t e r . But i n her r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h him, the concealment of her emotions i s not merely an a t -tempt to conform t o an image of s e n s i b l e e f f i c i e n t f e m i n i n i t y b u t becomes a dangerous h a b i t which r e s u l t s i n a d i s h o n e s t , m u t u a l l y e x p l o i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p and, ominously, an i n a b i l i t y on Marian's p a r t t o know what her f e e l i n g s r e a l l y a r e . T h i s e m o t i o n a l d i s h o n -e s t y and i t s r e s u l t , the p a r a l y s i s of arj i n a b i l i t y t o d i s c e r n genuine emotion, i s a l s o c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of P e t e r . When he asks why she never cooks a meal, she f e e l s h u r t and r e s e n t s h i s un-f a i r n e s s , f o r although she enjoys c o o k i n g she has d e l i b e r a t e l y r e f r a i n e d , because he might f e e l t h r e a t e n e d : "I was about t o make a s h a r p comment, but r e p r e s s e d i t . P e t e r a f t e r a l l was s u f f e r i n g . I n s t e a d I asked, "How was the wedding?'"(p. 64) S i m i l a r l y , when she runs away from him the f i r s t time, "He was annoyed but he wasn't going t o make a f u s s . " (p.74) I t i s no c o i n c i d e n c e t h a t they get engaged immediately a f t e r t h e i r o n l y r e a l f i g h t , which i s brought about w i t h the h e l p of f a t i g u e , a l c o h o l , and a thun-derstorm. I t i s the c l o s e s t they e v e r get to one another , but even here they express t h e i r anger i n d i r e c t l y , a v o i d i n g the r e a l i s s u e s and aiming f o r v u l n e r a b l e s p o t s , motivated n o t by any urge to r e s o l v e c o n f l i c t and i n c r e a s e u n d e r s t a n d i n g b ut by the d e s i r e t o i n f l i c t punishment. P e t e r accuses her savagely of r e j e c t i n g her f e m i n i n i t y , which, a l o n g w i t h the comparison to A i n s l e y , i s 19. f e l t by Marian as "a v i c i o u s goad." (p. 80) She r e t a l i a t e s by a c c u s i n g him of rudeness (though her anger a t him a c t u a l l y i s r o o t e d i n f e a r , l e g i t i m a t e l y caused by the p e r c e p t i o n o f him as a p r e d a t o r y hunter - an i n s i g h t which she h a s t i l y r e j e c t e d , then r e a c t e d t o , by r u n n i n g away from him twice and by burrow-i n g under Len's bed, l i k e the s m a l l animals P e t e r enjoys hunt-i n g and k i l l i n g - a l l o f which l e a d s , n o t a c c i d e n t a l l y , to h i s p r o p o s a l and h e r acceptance q f marriage.) Her f e a r and anger emerge as an attempt t o d e f l a t e him; " U n i n t e n t i o n a l bad manners was something P e t e r c o u l d n ' t stand to be accused o f , and I knew i t . I t put him i n the c l a s s of people i n the deodorant ads. He glaraced q u i c k l y over a t me, h i s eyes narrowed as though he was t a k i n g aim. Then he g r i t t e d h i s t e e t h t o g e t h e r and stepped mur-d e r o u s l y hard on the a c c e l e r a t o r . " (p.81) But Marian's r e p r e s s e d f e a r e v e n t u a l l y expresses i t s e l f anyway, i n a s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e manner. She and P e t e r are i n a r e s t a u r a n t h a v i n g d i n n e r * They are both "ravenous" and Marian a t f i r s t i s f e e l i n g serene. But h e r s e r e n i t y i s s h a t t e r e d by .a c o n v e r s a t i o n about c h i l d r e n and d i s c i p l i n e i n which i t b e c o m e s c l e a r t h a t Marian's o p i n i o n s , based on compassion, u n d e r s t a n d i n g and l o v e , are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed to P e t e r ' s , which are p u n i t i v e and c r u e l . She remarks, "You'd t e a c h them not to d r i v e around mowing down o t h e r people's hedges, I suppose." (p.148), and though t h i s e l i c i t s a s e l f - i n d u l g e n t chuckle from P e t e r , Marian's f e a r of him b e g i n s - a g a i n to r i s e * "She looked i n t e n t l y a t P e t e r , t r y i n g 20. t o see h i s e y e s . . . h i s f a c e was now i n shadow...She wondered why r e s t a u r a n t s l i k e t h i s one were kept so dark. Probably t o keep people from s e e i n g each o t h e r while they were e a t i n g . . . o b s e r v -i n g one's p a r t n e r too c l o s e l y might d i s p e l the aura of romance t h a t the r e s t a u r a n t was t r y i n g t o m a i n t a i n . Or c r e a t e . She ex-amined the blade of her k M f e . " (p.148) She t h i n k s about h i s r e c e n t tendency, which makes her uneasy, to s t a r e a t h e r "as though i f he looked hard enough he would be able t o see through h e r f l e s h and her s k u l l and i n t o the workings of her b r a i n . " (p.149) "He wanted to know what made her tick."(p.150) She watches him e a t , reminded o f Moose Beer commercials, and t h i n k s about the young boy who shot n i n e people from an u p s t a i r s window» "a r e -moved v i o l e n c e . . . a v i o l e n c e of the mind, almost l i k e magic."(p.151) The r e v e r i e , a c t u a l l y a s e r i e s of connected and t o t a l l y l e g i t i -mate f e a r s , c o n t i n u e s ; i t i s v e r y r e a l to Marian.because i n her own wa# she i s a l s o t r y i n g t o consume P e t e r ; s h e , t h i n k s about diagrams o f beef c a t t l e , and a t t h i s p o i n t , h a v i n g . i d e n t i f i e d w i t h both c a r n i v o r e and v i c t i m , she f i n d s she cannot e a t h e r s t e a k . Having demied h e r f e e l i n g s of f e a r and g u i l t , m i s t a k i n g them f o r a f f e c t i o n , she d i s c o v e r s t h a t her body has suddenly developed a w i l l of i t s own, but, s t i l l denying.and c o n c e a l i n g h e r own r e a l i t y , she t e l l s P e t e r she i s n ' t hungry, and takes r e f u g e i n a You-Tarzan-Me-Jane s e x - r o l e s u b t e r f u g e : "She meant t o i n d i c a t e by her tone o f v o i c e that, h e r stomach was too t i n y and h e l p l e s s t o cope wi t h t h a t v a s t q u a n t i t y of f o o d . P e t e r s m i l e d and chewed, p l e a s a n t l y c o n s c i o u s of h i s own s u p e r i o r c a p a c i t y . " (p.152) I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t h a t h e r f e e l i n g s have 21. been f o r c e d to take such d r a s t i c a c t i o n , f o r whenever she w i t -nesses u n c o n t r o l l e d e x p r e s s i o n of emotion, Marian f e e l s embar-r a s s e d , t h r e a t e n e d , or, as when Len bjfceaks down and r e v e a l s the reason f o r h i s h o r r o r a t A i n s l e y ' s pregnancy, " c o l d l y r e v o l t e d V they were a c t i n g l i k e a couple of i n f a n t s . A i n s l e y was g e t t i n g a l a y e r of b l u b b e r on her s o u l a l r e a d y , she thought: a r e n ' t hor-mones wonderful. Soon she would be f a t a l l over. And len,..had behaved l i k e a white grub suddenly unearthed from i t s burrow... a r e p u l s i v e b l i n d e d w r i t h i n g . . . " (p. 160) E v e n t u a l l y , the p r a c t i s e o f n e i t h e r acknowledging nor e x p r e s s i n g h e r emotions reduces Marian h e r s e l f t o such a s t a t e t h a t h e r g r i p on r e a l i t y b e g i n s t o l o o s e n and she i s p e r p e t u a l l y v u l n e r a b l e to h e r suppressed f e a r of P e t e r , marriage, the f e m i n i n e r o l e , and s t a r v a t i o n . She has i n v i t e d some of her f r i e n d s to P e t e r ' s part#, and i s apprehensive about t e l l i n g him: "Suddenly she f e l t t o t a l l y w i t h o u t h e r u s u a l s k i l l a t c a l c u l a t i n g h i s r e a c t i o n s i n advance. He had become an unknown q u a n t i t y . . . b l i n d rage and b l i n d e c s t a s y on h i s p a r t seemed e q u a l l y p o s s i b l e . She took a s t e p away from him and g r i p p e d the r a i l i n g w i t h h e r f r e e hand: t h e r e was no t e l l i n g what he might do." (p.226) Marian's f e a r of P e t e r , b o t h as a hunter armed w i t h guns and cam-e r a s and as a husband f u l l of e x p e c t a t i o n s which have a l r e a d y e l -i c i t e d from her b e h a v i o u r which she does not r e c o g n i z e nas h e r own, i s based not o n l y upon her p e r c e p t i o n s of people b u t a l s o upon h e r suppressed knowledge of h e r s e l f , f o r , i f P e t e r sees her 22. as an o b j e c t t o be consumed, she sees him i n the same way. " A i n s l e y had once c a l l e d him ' n i c e l y packaged', but now Marian d e c i d e d t h a t she found t h i s q u a l i t y a t t r a c t i v e . . . The sense of proud ownership she f e l t a t b e i n g w i t h him...caused h e r t o re a c h a c r o s s the t a b l e and take h i s hand." (p. 146^7) This' i s r e c i p r o c a l , a mutual, unspoken, and c a r e f u l l y - d i s g u i s e d a g ree-ment to r e l a t e to one another n ot as f e e l i n g people b ut as ob-j e c t s , t o be used, consumed! "He was t r e a t i n g me l i k e a s t a g e -prop, s i l e n t but s o l i d , a two-dimensional o u t l i n e . " (p. 71) "The r e l i e f of b e i n g stopped and h e l d , of h e a r i n g P e t e r ' s nor-mal v o i c e again and knowing he was r e a l , was so g r e a t I s t a r t e d t o laugh h e l p l e s s l y . " (p.74) However, Atwood does n o t h o l d P e t e r and Marian w h o l l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i r mutual e x p l o i t a t i o n and attempted d e s t r u c t i o n of one another as i n d i v i d u a l s ? everywhere i n the n o v e l are s i g n s t h a t they are responding to the p r e s s u r e s tof a s o c i e t y i n which even l o v e and mating are p o l l u t e d by mat-e r i a l i s m and the inhuman images of a d v e r t i s i n g . She makes i t c l e a r , moreover, t h a t i n t h i s system men are more, p o w e r f u l than women. Seymour Surveys i s run by men; hunters and lawyers are more powerful than housewives. And though Marian i s t o some de-gree aware of t h i s system and i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e to her own l i f e , she i s so busy c o n t r o l l i n g h er f e e l i n g s t o conform to the n u r s e -l i k e r o l e model which she has chosen t o emulate, t h a t she i s , a t f i r s t , powerless t o f i g h t back. When P e t e r comes over the morn-i n g a f t e r they get engaged, she se r v e s him c o f f e e s o l i c i t o u s l y and they t a l k : "He sounded as though he'd j u s t bought a s h i n y new c a r . I gave him a tender chrome-plated s m i l e j t h a t i s , I meant the s m i l e to e xpress tenderness, but my mouth f e l t s t i f f and b r i g h t and somehow expensive."(p.88) "I c o u l d f e e l the s t i r r i n g s of the p r o p r o e t a r y i n s t i n c t . So t h i s o b j e c t , then, belonged to me."(p.90) L a t e r , a t the p a r t y , she l o o k s i n h i s c l o t h e s c l o s e t (she i s u n u s u a l -l y aware, throughout the n o v e l , of e x t e r n a l d e t a i l s ; h i s appearance, c l o t h e s , apartment b u i l d i n g , f u r n i t u r e ) : "She r e a l i z e d t h a t she was r e g a r d i n g the c l o t h e s w i t h an emotion c l o s e t o something l i k e r e -sentment. How c o u l d they hang th e r e smugly a s s e r t i n g so much i n v i s -i b l e s i l e n t a u t h o r i t y ? But on second thought i t was more l i k e f e a r . She reached out a hand t o touch them, and drew i t back: she was a l -most a f r a i d they would be warm." (p.229) Yet, d e s p i t e h e r d i s g u i s e as the e f f i c i e n t capable nurse, m i n i s t e r i n g to the l i t t l e boy i n P e t e r and t h e i n v a l i d i n Duncan, Marian a t some l e v e l i s aware of What's happening. When Duncan remarks, " F l o r e n c e N i g h t i n g a l e was a c a n n i b a l you know," her r e a c t i o n i s one of g u i l t . a n d f e a r : "My calmness was s h a t t e r e d . I f e l t m i c e - f e e t of apprehension s c u r r y -i n g o ver my s k i n . What e x a c t l y was I b e i n g accused o f ? Was I ex-posed?" (p.100) And a t the c l o s e o f the book, when Duncan r a i s e s the s u b j e c t of P e t e r ' s attempted d e s t r u c t i o n of Marian, he remarks, "That's r i d i c u l o u s . . . P e t e r wasn't t r y i n g to d e s t r o y you. That's j u s t something you made up. A c t u a l l y you were t r y i n g to d e s t r o y him." I had a s i n k i n g f e e l i n g . "Is t h a t t r u e ? " I asked. "Search y o u r s o u l , " he s a i d . * (p. 280). In f a c t the o n l y d i f f e r e n c e between what P e t e r was t r y i n g t o do t o Marian and what Marian was t r y i n g t o do to P e t e r was t h a t he, be-24. cause he Is a man i n a male-dominated, m a l e - o r i e n t e d system, seemsw t o have more power and -'4s t h e r e f o r e more dangerous; and t h a t Marian has a s l i g h t advantage i n b e i n g c l o s e r t o h e r emo-t i o n s , even c u t o f f from them as she i s . A l l t h e i r a c quaintances are s k e p t i c a l about t h e i r engagement; A i n s l e y and Duncan express t h e i r r e s e r v a t i o n s f r a n k l y (he t e l l s h e r t h a t * i t sounded e v i l t o him but t h a t she seemed t o be man-a g i n g v e r y w e l l . " (p,184)» C l a r a seems t o r e g a r d i t as a prudent s t e p , and o n l y the o f f i c e v i r g i n s are impressed - f o r the wrong r e a s o n s . In f a c t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p i s t o t a l l y d e v o i d o f l o v e , which i s a s e r i o u s l a c k but which Atwood conveys i n a h i l a r i o u s l y comic f a s h i o n a t f i r s t ; "I s m i l e d back a t him...and he brought h i s o t h e r hand over and p l a c e d i t on top of mine, I was g o i n g t o b r i n g my o t h e r hand up and p l a c e i t on top of h i s , b u t I thought i f I d i d then mine would be on top and he'd have t o take h i s arm our from underneath..,1 squeezed h i s arm a f f e c t i o n a t e l y i n s t e a d . " (p.65)They both view marriage w i t h an eye t o p r a c t i c a l i t y . P e t e r says,""Most women are p r e t t y s c a t t e r b r a i n e d b u t you're such a s e n s i b l e g i r l " . . . I wasn't sure what t o say - "You're v e r y s e n s i b l e t o o " d i d n ' t seem a p p r o p r i a t e . He put h i s arm around my s h o u l d e r s , and we s a t i n what I hoped was a b l i s s f u l s i l e n c e . " (p.89) Marian c a r e f u l l y c o n c e a l s her i n a b i l i t y t o e a t because she's a f r a i d she i s n ' t n o r m a l i M T h i s was why she was a f r a i d to t e l l P e t e r , he might t h i n k she was some k i n d of f r e a k , o r n e u r o t i c . N a t u r a l l y he would have second thoughts about g e t t i n g m a rried; he might say they s h o u l d postpone the wedding u n t i l she got over i t . She would say 25. t h a t , too, i f i t was him." (p.204) I f they had beera m a r r i e d , they c o u l d a p p r o p r i a t e l y have r e w r i t t e n t h e i r marriage f o r m u l a t o r e a d not 'In s i c k n e s s and i n h e a l t h ' but "In normalcy o n l y ' . But beneath the empty space where something a t l e a s t r e s e m b l i n g l o v e s h o u l d be, t h e r e i s an emotion which i s even more s i n i s t e r than l a c k of l o v e ; and t h a t i s mutual contempt. Marian i s s c o r n -f u l of the machismo t r a i t s i n P e t e r ; w h ile he makes l o v e to her i n the bathtub she wonders What men"s«magazine f a n t a s y he i s a c t i n g out t h i s time. She makes s i l e n t s n i d e remarks t o h e r s e l f about h i s c l o t h e s , apartment, s o c i a l b e h aviour and v a l u e s , p er-s o n a l h a b i t s , f e a r s and f r i e n d s . Sometimes i t i s a t o l e r a n t , amused, condescending contempt; more o f t e n i t i s f l a t c o l d con-tempt. P e t e r as viewed through Marian's eyes i s a pompous ass. At titst she t r e a t s him l i k e a c h i l d who needs to be 'handled* and ' d i s t r a c t e d ' ; she t a k e s - f o r granted the n e c e s s i t y to mani-p u l a t e d him. S i m i l a r l y , he t r e a t s her p a t r o n i z i n g l y , i n d u l g e n t l y . H i s a t t i t u d e t o women g e n e r a l l y - t h a t they are r a t h e r l i k e l a r g e c h i l d r e n - i s i m p l i c i t i n h i s r e p r o a c h i " A i n s l e y behaved h e r s e l f p r o p e r l y , why c o u l d n ' t you?" (p.80) H i s a n a l y s i s of Marian's misbehaviour i s t h a t she i s r e j e c t i n g her. f e m i n i n i t y . As they s i t i n h i s c a r d u r i n g the storm he s a y s , " " I t ' s a good t h i n g I d i d n ' t l e t you walk home,",,,in the tone of a man who has made a f i r m and p r o p e r d e c i s i o n . I c o u l d o n l y agree."(p.82) Marian's growing tendency t o agree with P e t e r ' s a n a l y s e s o f h e r i s one e x c e l l e n t reason f o r her to f e a r him. The next morn-i n g , when he asks h e r when she wants to get m a r r i e d , a v e r y 26. ominous thing happens: "My f i r s t impulse was to answer, with the evasive flippancy I'd always used "before when he's asked me serious questions about myself, "What about Groundhog Day?" But instead I heard a s o f t f l a n n e l l y voice I barely recognized, saying, "I'd rather have you decide that. I'd rather leave the b i g decisions up to you.'" I was astounded at myself. I'd never said anything r e-motely l i k e that to him be-fore," (p.90) Soon she begins to l e t him make other decisions f o r her; soon he begins to t r e a t her l i k e h is personal slave. When she asks him a question which to her i s very serious - Am I normal? - "He laughed and patted her on the rump... 'I could use another drink,'Peter said; i t was h i s way of asking her to get him one...'And while you're up, f l i p over the record, that's a good g i r l . ' " ( p . 2 0 7 ) Marian i s turning into a combination of child-wife-sex-object-slave; i n short, an i d e a l t r a d i t i o n a l wife. Her repressed sense of he r s e l f as v i c t i m i s p e r f e c t l y v a l i d . Even a f t e r she bakes the edible woman,"...if Peter found her s i l l y she would believe i t , she would accept h i s version of hers&^f•" The r e l a t i o n s h i p between Marian and Duncan i s d i f f e r e n t i n almost every aspect from the r e l a t i o n s h i p between her and Peter. For one thing, Duncan consistently declines to be made int o a f i g u r e i n one of her s e x i s t fantasies. Whenever she assumes the r o l e of comp-etent nurse, Duncan refuses to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the game; "I had a twinge of i r r i t a t i o n . I had been f e e l i n g compassion f o r him as a su f f e r e r on the verge of mental collapse, and now he had revealed the whole thing as a self-conscious performance."(p. 5^) "I f e l t calm, serene as a stone moon, i n control of the whole white space of the laundromat. I could have reached out e f f o r t l e s s l y and put 27. my arms around t h a t huddled awkward body and c o n s o l e d i t , rocked i t g e n t l y . . . h e s a i d i n a s o f t dry v o i c e , "I can see you're admir-i n g ray f e b r i l i t y . I know i t ' s a p p e a l i n g , I p r a c t i s e a t i t ; e v e r y woman l o v e s an i n v a l i d . I b r i n g out the F l o r e n c e N i g h t i n g a l e i n them...But be c a r e f u l . . . h u n g e r i s more b a s i c than l o v e . F l o r e n c e N i g h t i n g a l e was a c a n n i b a l , you know." (p.99-100) When she l e a v e s P e t e r ' s p a r t y and f o l l o w s Duncan to the laundromat, he warns her t h a t he n o t o n l y doesn't need t o be rescued but has no i n t e n t i o n of r e s c u i n g her. (p.247) But Marian i s p e r s i s t e n t } even a f t e r h i s repeated warnings she attempts t o a f f i r m the nurse-image p a r t of her i d e n t i t y by p l a y i n g s e x u a l s o c i a l worker, but when she t r i e s t o g e t him to j o i n i n her f a r v t a s y by a s k i n g , "How was i t f o r you?* he d e c l i n e s a g a i n , i n no u n c e r t a i n terms. "You want me to say i t was stupendous, don't you? ...That i t got me out of my s h e l l . Hatched me into.manhood. Solved a l l my problems.. .Sure you do, and I c o u l d aikways t e l l you would. I l i k e people p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n my f a n t a s y l i f e and I'm u s u a l l y w i l l i n g t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e i r s , up t o a p o i n t . I t was fine» j u s t as good as u s u a l . ' The i m p l i c a t i o n sank i n smoothly as a k n i f e through b u t t e r . . . T h e s t a r c h e d n u r s e - l i k e image of h e r s e l f she had t r i e d t o p r e s e r v e as a l a s t r e s o r t crumpled l i k e wet n e w s p r i n t . ' (p.264) Another game which Duncan r e f u s e s t o p l a y i s h i d e - a n d - g e t - l o s t w i t h emotions. While he does not e x a c t l y express emotion, he does a t l e a s t t a l k about h i s f e e l i n g , which makes Marian uncomfortable t 28. " . . . a l l t h i s t a l k i n g , t h i s rather l i q u i d confessing, was something I didn't think I could ever bring myself to do. I t seemed foolh^ay to me, l i k e an uncooked egg deciding to come out of i t s s h e l l t there would be a r i s k of spreading out too f a r , turning i n t o a formless puddle." (p.9 9 ) At f i r s t she responds by donning her "starched nurse-like image" but that doesn't work, since Duncan i s apparently equipped with antennae that a l e r t him to her attempts at r o l e - p l a y i n g . The r e s u l t i s that they make at l e a s t a s t a r t at r e l a t i n g to one another horaestly, d i r e c t l y . When they give each other warmth and comfort i n the snowy park (p. 171-2) they exchange very few words, but the contact i s genuine. Duncan's meticulous i f offhand honesty about his f e e l i n g s and mot-ives also serves to place t h e i r mutual e x p l o i t a t i o n on a conscious l e v e l , where i t i s considerably l e s s dangerous than the attempt to devour one another's i d e n t i t i e s i n which Marian and le. t e r are i n -volved, Marian and Duncan are aware that they are using one another but they are not pretending otherwise? whereas Marian and Peter are unsuccessfully mimicking loves "Thus, when he Would murmur... 'You know, I don't even r e a l l y l i k e you very much', i t didn't d i s -turb her at a l l because she didn't have to answer. But when Peter, with his mouth i n approximately the same p o s i t i o n , would whisper, *I love you 9, and wait f o r the echo, she had to exert herself."(p.183) This i s not to imply that Atwood i s presenting Duncan as Marian's rescuer, or that her r e l a t i o n s h i p with him i s an a l t e r n a t i v e to her r e l a t i o n s h i p with Peter. The Edible Woman i s open-ended? no 29. •happy ending' o r f i n a l r e s o l u t i o n i s o f f e r r e d , though perhaps Duncan's v i s i t to Marian's apartment a t the end of the "book may be m i s l e a d i n g from some p e r s p e c t i v e s j u s t because i t i s conven-t i o n a l : young woman breaks w i t h u n s a t i s f a c t o r y f i a n c e e but gets new l o v e r , c o n s o l a t i o n p r i z e . There i s p l e n t y of evidence t h a t Atwood d i d not int e n d such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ; f o r example, F i s h ' s a n a l y s i s o f A l i c e i n Wonderland: "...she goes t o t a l k w i t h the Mock T u r t l e , enclosed i n h i s s h e l l and h i s s e l f - p i t y , a d e f i n i t e l y pre-adolescent character...So anyway she makes a l o t of attempts bu t she re f u s e s t o commit h e r s e l f , you can't say t h a t by the end of the book she has reached anything t h a t can be d e f i n i t e l y c a l l e d m a t u r i t y . She does much b e t t e r though i n Through the Looking Glass, where, as y o u ' l l remember..."(p.194) Duncan i s the Mock T u r t l e , and Marian spends time w i t h him, but when he c a l l s , a f t e r the key scene w i t h P e t e r and the e d i b l e woman-cake, she r e f l e c t s , " I was s u p r i s e d ; I had more or l e s s f o r g o t t e n about him." (p.2?7) The r e s -o l u t i o n takes the form of s t r o n g i n d i c a t i o n s t h a t i t w i l l now be up t o Marian t o achieve g r e a t e r self-awareness; and w h i l e the next stage of her growth might co n c e i v a b l y take the shape of a r e l a t i o n -s h i p w i t h Duncan (now t h a t he i s b e r e f t of h i s 'parents' and seems t o f e e l the need f o r a replacement p a r e n t - f i g u r e ) , . t h e r e are si g n s t h a t i f t h i s happens, Marian a t some p o i n t w i l l be.compelled t o d e a l w i t h c e r t a i n tendencies of her own - f o r example, she i s merely amazed and amused a t "the e x t e n t t o which he cou l d ignore her p o i n t of view..." (p.189) and she i s not dismayed when he makes derogatory remarks about women - "Hey, why do you have a crummy job l i k e t h i s ? I thought only f a t sloppy housewives d i d t h a t s o r t of t h i n g . " (p.55). Whether i t happens or not i s not 30. the p o i n t of the n o v e l anyway: "When he a r r i v e d . I was f i n i s h i n g the windows...We hadn't cle a n e d them i n a l o n g time and they had got q u i t e s i l t e d over with dust, and I was t h i n k i n g i t was g o i n g to be c u r i o u s to be a b l e to see out of them a g a i n . I t b o t h e r e d me t h a t there was s t i l l some d i r t on the o u t s i d e I c o u l d n ' t r e a c h : s o o t and r a i n s t r e a k s . . , 1 d i d n ' t hear Duncan come i n . . . I got down from the c h a i r , r a t h e r r e l u c t a n t l y - I l i k e t o f i n i s h t h i n g s once I've begun them and t h e r e were s t i l l s e v e r a l windows l e f t u n c l e a n e d . " (p,2?8) The a p a r t m e n t - c l e a n i n g p a r a l l e l s the p r o c e s s o f r e g a i n i n g c o n t r o l over her l i f e j Marian i s r e s t o r i n g p s y c h i c and e m o t i o n a l o r d e r as w e l l as domestic c l e a n l i n e s s . By a s s e r t i n g and a f f i r m i n g the v a l i d i t y of h e r own f e e l i n g s , however s y m b o l i c a l l y , i n h e r r e l a t i o n s h i p with P e t e r , Marian has gained aeess to h e r own s t r e n g t h . In g e n e r a l , her p o s i t i o n v i s - a * - v i s men i s i n d i c a t e d e a r l y i n the n o v e l i n the d e s c r i p t i o n of the power s t r u c t u r e a t Seymour Sur-veys » *"The company i s l a y e r e d l i k e an ice-cream sandwich, w i t h t h r e e f l o o r s : the upper c r u s t , the lower c r u s t , and our department, the gooey l a y e r i n the middle. On, the f l o o r above are the e x e c u t i v e s and the p s y c h o l o g i s t s - r e f e r r e d t o as the men u p s t a i r s , s i n c e they are a l l men...Below us are the machines...Our department i s the l i n k between the two: we are supposed t o tak«care of the human .element... As market r e s e a r c h i s a s o r t of cottage i n d u s t r y , l i k e a h a n d - k n i t sock company, these are a l l housewives working i n t h e i r spare time and p a i d by the p i e c e . They don't make much, but sfchey l i k e t o get out of the house." (p.19) In e f f e c t , Marian a s s e n t s to her s u b s e r v i e n t p o s i t i o n i n r e l a t i o n to men; a t h e r job, she i s aware of the h i e r a r c h y and oomments on i t , but takes no a c t i o n a g a i n s t a system which o f f e r s her v e r y few c h o i c e s and which promises a f u t u r e so b l e a k t h a t she d e v e l -ops a motive f o r marriage: the need to elude the Pension P&an. In f a c t she goes as f a r as t o a c t i v e l y a s s i s t i n the pro c e s s of d i v e s t i n g h e r s e l f of s e l f - d e t e r m i n a t i o n . She tends t o l e t men make d e c i s i o n s f o r her, even w i t h Duncan who doesn't conform t o any masculine s t e r e o t y p e s "'What are we go i n g t o do now?" she asked, c o n s c i o u s o f the p l a i n t i v e tone i n her own v o i c e . She f e l t h e l p l e s s t o d e c i d e . He was more o r l e s s i n charge. A f t e r a l l , he was the one with the money." (p.249) Marian takes no a c t i o n a g a i n s t the system which d i s c r i m i n a t e s a-g a i n s t her, and i s a p p a r e n t l y so deaf and b l i n d to sexism t h a t she m a i n t a i n s a f r i e n d s h i p w i t h Len Slank, a l t h o u g h h i s a t t i t u d e s and b e h a v i o u r toward women are unmistakeably those o f a male chauv-i n i s t p i g . Not o n l y does Marian v a l u e t h i s f r i e n d s h i p (more than she v a l u e s h e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h C l a r a and A i n s l e y ) b u t she ex-p e r i e n c e s c o n f l i c t about whether o r not she sho u l d warn him when A i n s l e y chooses him as the f a t h e r f o r her proposed c h i l d . Her p r o t e c t i v e n e s s o f Len and s u p p o r t i v e n e s s o f P e t e r - bot h a t t i t -udes t h a t she does not f e e l toward her women f r i e n d s - are i n -a p p r o p r i a t e , and s e l f - d e f e a t i n g . Yet s e c r e t l y she i s s c o r n f u l of men. Her d r y tongue-rin-cheek d e s c r i p t i o n s of the c r i s i s of T r i g -g e r ' s marriage (pp. 2? and 64), the b e e r - d r i n k e r s she i n t e r v i e w s f o r Seymour? Surveys (p.45-47), P e t e r ' s men's magazine f a n t a s i e s (p.60), the Western movie (p, 124) and the Moose Beer a d v e r t i s i n g campaign - a l l c o n t a i n a vwry,amused d i s r e s p e c t f o r the c u l t o f m a s c u l i n i t y - an a t t i t u d e which she keeps d i s c r e e t l y hidden, most of the time. Marian and Her S e l f ; 3 2 . B a s i c a l l y , The Edible Woman i s Marian's story j none of her r e l a t i o n -ships with the other characters i s as important as her r e l a t i o n s h i p to h e r s e l f . Twice i n the novel she i s accused of r e j e c t i n g her fem-in i n i t y } affected by pressures from both without, and within, she i s weakened and fragmented by a gradual process of a l i e n a t i o n from s e l f . The novel concludes as she begins the process of r e - i n t e g r a t i o n . The f i r s t sentence of the book reveals three e s s e n t i a l aspects of Marian's character! uncertainty about herself ("I know I was a l l right...")andha need to check up on the state of her inner self} the f a c t that usually she f e e l s ' s t o l i d ' , which the Encyclopedia Britannica defines as "having or expressing l i t t l e or no s e n s i b i l -ity"} and her assumption that an emotionless state i s a healthy one. Within the next few pages Atwood also d i s c l o s e s that her ego i s bolstered i f she gets the chance to mother or nurse someone, as she does the hung-over Ainsley, and that she s u f f e r s from fear, and therefore needs to f e e l safe. When Marian's anxiety i s r e f l e c t e d symbolically i n a nightmare in which her feet dissolve and her fingers turn transparent (p.4 3 ) she terms i t a dream and records no emotional reaction. Her uneasy doubts about her i d e n t i t y begin to increase} the more she behaves without reference to her f e e l i n g s , the more prone.she i s to panic and to v i s i o n s of herself d i s i n t e r g r a t i n g . As Peter makes love to her in the bathtub she contemplates the shower curtain and runs through a v a r i e t y of possible explanations f o r his behaviour»"Or maybe - and the thought was c h i l l i n g - he had intended i t as an 33. e x p r e s s i o n of my_ p e r s o n a l i t y . . . d i d he r e a l l y t h i n k of me as a l a v a t o r y f i x t u r e . What k i n d of a g i r l d i d he t h i n k I was?"(p.62) So a l i e n a t e d i s she from h e r own f e e l i n g s t h a t , i n the b a r when P e t e r and Len s l i p i n t o a Hemingwayesque camaraderie based on h u n t i n g and bloddshed and machismo(in which the v i c t i m i s r e f e r r e d t o , s i g n i f i c a n t l y , with the feminine pronoun), she i s unaware t h a t she's c r y i n g u n t i l "a l a r g e drop of something wet had mat-e r i a l i z e d on the t a b l e near.my hand. I poked i t with my f i n g e r and smudged i t around a l i t t l e b e f o r e I r e a l i z e d w i t h h o r r o r t h a t i t was a t e a r . I must be c r y i n g then!"(p.70) Her c o n v i c t i o n t h a t to f e e l and express emotion i s a s i g n o f v u l n e r a b i l i t y i s so d e e p l y - r o o t e d t h a t , a t once, "Something i n s i d e me s t a r t e d t o dash about i n d i t h e r i n g mazes of p a n i c " (p.70) j u s t l i k e a hunter's v i c t i m . In the washroom c u b i c l e she n o t i c e s t h a t "The r o l l o f t o i l e t paper crouched i n th e r e with me, h e l p l e s s and white and f u r r y , w a i t i n g p a s s i v e l y f o r the end."(p.70) Very soon a f t e r t h i s , she runs away from P e t e r , i s caught, crawls i n t o "a p r i v a t e burrow" under Len's bed, and g e n e r a l l y behaves l i k e a hunted a n i m a l . Having a c t e d out t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n -s h i p , they get engaged. Marian a t some l e v e l of her b e i n g makes a c h o i c e ; t o be a v i c t i m . But the next morning "my mind was a t f i r s t as empty as though soaeone had scooped out the i n s i d e of my s k u l l l i k e a cantaloupe and l e f t me on l y the r i n d t o t h i n k with...My c l o t h e s were s c a t t e r e d over the f l o o r . . . l i k e fragments l e f t over from the e x p l o s i o n of some l i f e - s i z e d scarecrow, and the i n s i d e of my mouth f e l t l i k e a p i e c e of c o t t o n wool s t u f f i n g . " (p. 83) That same morning she has a b r i e f glimpse of h e r s e l f as a s h i n y expensive new c a r t h a t P e t e r has j u s t bought (p.88) and hears h e r s e l f s p e a k i n g i n a " s o f t f l a n n e l l y v o i c e " she " b a r e l y r e c o g -n i z e d " (p.90). She f e e l s anxious i n the laundromat when Duncan comments on her "exposed" appearance without her work c l o t h e s (p.93) and i s c a r e f u l to assume he r n u r s e - d i s g u i s e i s response t o h i s " l i q u i d c o n f e s s i n g " ( p . 9 9 ) . Her two d o l l s are s i g n i f i c a n t i n the c o n t e x t of her a l i e n a t i o n from h e r s e l f 5 ( p . 1 0 3 ) - the o l d -e r o n e , d a r k * l i k e M a r i a n , i s " s t u f f e d w i t h sawdust" and has "head, hands and f e e t of a hard woody m a t e r i a l . " (p.103) Towards the end of the n o v e l she has the n i g h t m a r i s h impression t h a t "By the s t r e n g t h of t h e i r s eparate v i s i o n s they were t r y i n g t o p u l l h e r a p a r t . " (p.219) Soon a f t e r she g e t s engaged, Marian's estrangement from h e r s e l f i s r e f l e c t e d i n the s h i f t from f i r s t to t h i r d person n a r r a t i v e ; she has the i m p r e s s i o n of d r i f t i n g a l o n g p u r p o s e l e s s l y , g e t s f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r from her f e e l i n g s , becomes more and more v u l -n e r a b l e t o p a n i c , and, i n the r e s t a u r a n t with P e t e r , f i n d s h e r -s e l f unable to e a t . Her t r i p to the d r e s s shop and the h a i r d r e s -s e r ' s s i g n i f y a f u r t h e r s t e p i n t o u n r e a l i t y ; b u y i n g andress f o r P e t e r ' s p a r t y , "She d i d n ' t t h i n k i t was r e a l l y h s r , out the s a l e s l a d y d i d . ' I t ' s you, dear,'she s a i d , her v o i c e p o s i t i v e . " (p.208) and Marian buys the d r e s s . L o o k i n g a t women u n d e r . h a i r d r y e r s , she t h i n k s , "Was t h a t what she was b e i n g pushed towards, t h i s comb-i n a t i o n of the simply v e g e t a b l e and the simply mechanical? An e l e c t r i c mushroom." (p.210) S i t t i n g i n the bathtub she i s s e i z e d by panic t h a t she might d i s -s o l v e , and, d r e s s e d f o r the p a r t y , she l o o k s a t h e r arms i n the m i r r o r and though they are "the o n l y p o r t i o n of her f l e s h t h a t was without a c l o t h or n y l o n or l e a t h e r o r v a r n i s h c o v e r i n g , . . . even they looked f a k e , l i k e s o f t p i n k i s h - w h i t e rubber o r p l a s t i c , b o n e l e s s , f l e x i b l e . . . Annoyed wi t h h e r s e l f f o r s l i p p i n g back t o -wards her e a r l i e r p a n i c , she opened the cupboard door t o t u r n the m i r r o r to the wall.(p.229),,When Duncan a r r i v e s he s a y s , "You d i d n ' t t e l l me i t was a masquerade...Who the h e l l are you supposed t o be?" Marian l e t h e r s h o u l d e r s sag w i t h d e spair."(p, 2 3 9) But h e r sense of d i s i n t e g r a t i o n and l o s s of i d e n t i t y i s a c t i v a t e d to a t e r r i f y i n g degree by F e t e r t a k i n g p i c t u r e s : "No*" she screamed... She sensed her f a c e as v a s t l y s p r e a d i n g and papery and s l i g h t l y d i l a p i d a t e d ; a huge b i l l b o a r d s m i l e , p u l l i n g away i n f l a p s and p a t c h e s , the metal s u r f a c e beneath showing through." (p.244) "Once h e - p u l l e d the t r i g g e r she would be stopped, f i x e d i n d i s s o l -u b l y i n t h a t g e s t u r e , t h a t s i n g l e s t a n c e , unable t o move o r change." (p.245) When her attempt to s a l v a g e a shrea of her f o r m e r . i d e n t i t y by a c t i n g as s e x u a l nurse t o Duncan f a i l s , she i s g r i p p e d by "the c o l d energy of t e r r o r . At t h i s moment t o evoke something,some response.*.was the most important t h i n g she c o u l d . e v e r have done, c o u l d e v e r do, and she c o u l d n ' t do i t . The knowledge was an i c y d e s o l a t i o n worse than fear."(p.2 5 4 ) As i t t u r n s out, Duncan take s the i n i t i a t i v e , admonishing, " I t i s n ' t something you can d i s p e n s e , you know."(p.254) The n e x t morning she i s unable to e a t a n y t h i n g a t a l l } r u n n i n g d o w n h i l l w i t h Duncan, "She had a v i s i o n of the red d r e s s d i s i n t e g r a t i n g i n raid-air, f a l l i n g i n l i t t l e s c r a p s behind her i n the snow* l i k e f e a t h e r s . " (p.260) But the escapade of Duncan has accomplished the d e s t r u c t i o n o f h e r " l a s t r e s o r t . . . t h e s t a r c h e d n u r s e - l i k e image of h e r s e l f . " (p.264) and the next day she p r e s e n t s P e t e r with.an e d i b l e woman. She c o n f r o n t s the r e a l i t y of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p and f o r c -es him to c o n f r o n t i t too, and the engagement is."broken. She b e g i n s , t o t h i n k of h e r s e l f i n the f i r s t person a g a i n , r e g a i n s h e r a p p e t i t e , c l e a n s her apartment, and, i n g e n e r a l resumes h e r s t a b l e , e f f i c i e n t i d e n t i t y . F o r t h i s reason she i s not complete-l y out of danger a t the end of the book when Duncan, wanders i n wondering what w i l l become of h i m s e l f . She s t i l l , h a s a p e r i l o u s tendency t o . a c c e p t men's v e r s i o n s of h e r s e l f , and, h a v i n g j u s t e x t r i c a t e d h e r s e l f from a r e l a t i o n s h i p with a rescuer-frora-chaos who turned out to be a c a r n i v o r o u s hunter, she i s perhaps i n danger;of p l a y i n g a c a n n i b a l i s t i c F l o r e n c e N i g h t i n g a l e t o Dun-can's emaciated p r e - a d o l e s c e n t Mock T u r t l e , though we are g i v e n t o understand t h a t "She does much b e t t e r i n Through the  Looking Glass."(p.194) 37-v S u r f a c i n g The Unnamed P r o t a g o n i s t and Joe L i k e The E d i b l e Woman, S u r f a c i n g f o c u s s e s on a c r i s i s i n the l i f e o f the c e n t r a l c haracter} the unnamed p r o t a g o n i s t ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p t o h e r s e l f i s the most important one i n the book. Her r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s are i n some ways l e s s important and i n o t h e r s more important than are Marian's i n The E d i b l e Woman} the c a s t o f c h a r a c t e r s i s much s m a l l e r , ^ p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s / \ l e s s d e t a i l e d , but the p o l i t i c s o f r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n S u r f a c i n g are l e s s s u b t l e . The power w i e l d e d by David over Anna i s more d i r e c t , f o r example, and depends l e s s upon her t a c i t consent, and Anna's h o s t i l e j e a l o u s y o f the p r o t a g o n i s t i s more ;naked..;So i s t e r r o r ; the p a n i c which i s r e v e a l e d o n l y i n f l a s h e s behind the comic mask i n The  E d i b l e Woman i s much more c e n t r a l t o S u r f a c i n g , more dominant i n the n a r r a t o r ' s c o n s c i o u s n e s s and i n the n o v e l as a whole. Of the two n o v e l s . S u r f a c i n g i s the more powerful, the more sombre and profound, because the p r o t a g o n i s t , p r o p e l l e d by l o s s and death (her p a r e n t s ' her c h i l d ' s , h er own) moves f a r t h e r i n t o h er p a i n , i s more aware of her a t r o p h i e d f e e l i n g s , submits more f u l l y t o her i n s a n i t y . In the mechanical Americanized world o f the c i t y where Joe and the nameless woman, David and Anna l i v e , those who have become mechan-i c a l i n the sense t h a t they are c u t o f f from t h e i r b o d i e s and f e e l i n g s , a re more po w e r f u l . Although they are u s u a l l y men, the p r o t a g o n i s t h e r s e l f i s one of them; i n the n o v e l ' s two man-woman r e l a t i o n s h i p s , David and the p r o t a g o n i s t are i n c o n t r o l because they do not l o v e , cannot l o v e , f a i l to f e e l . 3 8L. I'm t r y i n g to decide whether or not I love him. I t shouldn't matter, but there's always a moment when c u r i o s i t y becomes more important to them then peace and they need to ask} though he hasn't y e t . I t ' s best to have the answer worked out i n ad-vance: whether you evade or do i t the hard way and t e l l the t r u t h , a t l e a s t you aren't caught o f f guard, I sum him up, d i v i d i n g him Into c a t e g o r i e s : he's good i n bed, much b e t t e r than the one before: he's moody but he's not much bother, we s p l i t the rent and he doesn't t a l k much, t h a t ' s an advantage. When he suggested we should l i v e together I d i d n ' t h e s i t a t e r I t wasn't even a r e a l d e c i s i o n , i t was more l i k e buying^ a g o l d -f i s h or a potted cactus p l a n t , not because you want one i n advance but because you happen to be i n the s t o r e and you see them l i n e d up on the counter. I'm fond of him, I'd r a t h e r have him around than, not? though i t would be n i c e i f he meant some-t h i n g more to me. The f a c t t h a t he doesn't makes me sad: no one has s i n c e my husband. A d i v o r c e i s l i k e an amputation, you s u r v i v e but there's l e s s of you. 2 This passage occurs e a r l y i n the book, and o u t l i n e s w i t h sharp c l e a r s t r o k e s c e r t a i n c r u c i a l f a c t s : she i s so f a r from f e e l i n g ; love f o r Joe that she t r i e s to decide w i t h her mind whether she l o v e s him or E D O t t mainly because she doesn't want t o be caught ' o f f guard* when he asks her, doesn't want to lose balance, c o n t r o l . A clue i s given as to why she cannot l o v e , but a hidden c l u e ; no one has meant much to her s i n c e her husband and the d i v o r c e , as she d e s c r i b e s them. They are t o l e r a b l e i n t h i s guise; her l o v e r and a b o r t i o n are not. She has sup-pressed not only the pain of the events which caused the s p l i t , the 'amputation', but a l s o any true r e c o l l e c t i o n of. what those events were: I rehearsed emotions, naming them: joy, peace, g u i l t , r e l e a s e , love and hate, r e a c t , r e l a t e ; what t o f e e l was l i k e what to wear, you watched the others and memorized i t . But the only t h i n g there was the f e a r t h a t I wasn't 2 Atwood, Margaret, S u r f a c i n g , McLelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1 9 7 2 , p,- 42. 39. a l i v e i a n e g a t i v e , the d i f f e r e n c e between the shadow of a p i n and what i t ' s l i k e when you s t i c k i t i n your arm,... they've d i s c o v e r e d r a t s p r e f e r any s e n s a t i o n to none...They s l i p p e d the needle i n t o the v e i n and I was f a l l i n g down, i t was l i k e d i v i n g , s i n k i n g from one l a y e r o f darkness to a deeper, deepest; when I r o s e up through the a n a e s t h e t i c , p a l e green and then d a y l i g h t , I c o u l d remember n o t h i n g . " ( p . I l l ) Again a n a l y z i n g her f e e l i n g s f o r Joe, she r e f l e c t s t h a t •'Everything I v a l u e about him seems to be p h y s i c a l i the r e s t i s e i t h e r unknown, d i s a g r e e a b l e o r r i d i c u l o u s . I don;t care much f o r h i s temperament, which a l t e r n a t e s between s u r l i n e s s and gloom, o r f o r the overgrown pots he throws so s k i l l f u l l y on the wheel and then m u t i l a t e s . . . T h e i r o n l y f u n c t i o n i s t o uphold Joe's un v o i c e d c l a i m t o s u p e r i o r a r t i s t i c s e r i o u s n e s s i every time I s e l l a p o s t e r d e s i g n or get a new commission he mangles another po t . " (p.57) The element o f c o m p e t i t i o n i s s t r o n g between them and crops up even over t r i v i a ; "I had t o use a l o t of energy j u s t to keep us p o i n t e d s t r a i g h t , because Joe d i d n ' t know how to s t e e r ; a l s o he wouldn't admit i t , which made i t h a r d e r . " (p.85) In t h e i r c o n f l i c t about marriage, Joe c a p i t u l a t e s by s a y i n g , "I g i v e up, you win." (p.124) But s h o r t l y , a f t e r she 'remembers' g i v i n g b i r t h t o h e r , c h i l d (what she i s a c t u a l l y remembering i s the a b o r t i o n ; her memories are mixed, p a r t t r u e and p a r t s e l f - p r o t e c t i v e s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e i n v e n -t i o n s ) she b e g i n s to be more s e n s i t i v e t o what she i s d o i n g to J o e : "I s h o u l d have r e a l i z e d much e a r l i e r what was happening, I s h o u l d have got out of i t w h i l e we were s t i l l i n the • c i t y . I t was u n f a i r o f me t o s t a y w i t h him, he'd become used t o i t , hooked on it,,..When you c a n ' t t e l l the d i f -f e r e n c e between your own p l e a s u r e and your p a i n then you're an a d d i c t , I d i d t h a t , I f e d him u n l i m i t e d s u p p l i e s of nothing..."(p.84) '43. When she t r i e s to explain why she won't marry him, she r e a l i z e s that her reason "...was true, hut the words were coming out of me l i k e the mechanical words from a t a l k i n g d o l l , the kind with the p u l l tape at the back} the whole speech was unwinding, everything i n order, a spool," (p.87) L a t e r p when Anna i s sympathetic and says, "You must f e e l awful,", she moves forward i n the d i r e c t i o n of self-knowledge t "I didn't f e e l awful} I r e a l i z e d I didn't f e e l much of anything, I hadn't f o r a long time."(p.105) The protagonist i s cut o f f from f e e l i n g s as she f e e l s she cut her c h i l d o f f from l i f e . She can't feel} when Joe describes accurately what she thinks of him, "His face contorted, i t was painj I envied him." (p.107) As the novel progresses, the tension between Joe and the woman increases, as do her pain, self-awareness, and love. At one point she i d e n t i f i e s with David: "David i s l i k e me, I thought, we are the ones that don't know how to love, there i s something e s s e n t i a l missing i n us, we were born that way, Madame at the store with one hand, atrophy of the heart. Joe and Anna are lucky, they do i t badly and s u f f e r because of i t : but i t ' s better to see than to be b l i n d , even though that way you have to l e t -i n the crimes and a t r o c i t i e s too. Or perhaps we are normal and the ones who can love are freaks, they have an extra organ, l i k e the v e s t i g i a l eye in the foreheads of amph-ibians they've never found the use f o r . " (p.137) On the l a s t page of the novel, a f t e r her regeneration;through insanity, t e r r o r , hunger, and, we are asked to believes conception, the protagonist watches Joe as he stands on the dock c a l l i n g her} t h i s time she i s not t r y i n g to decide with her head i f she loves him or not: " I watch him, my love f o r him useless as a t h i r d eye or a p o s s i b i l i t y . " (p.1 9 2 ) 41. Joe i s a p o s s i b i l i t y not because he knows how t o f e e l and can assume the s t e r e o t y p e d r o l e of the f a t h e r - t e a c h e r , but because he i s 'un-formed', n o t hardened i n t o a mechanical •American' yet t F o r him t r u t h might s t i l l be p o s s i b l e , what w i l l p r e s e r v e him i s the absence of words; but the o t h e r s are a l r e a d y t u r n i n g to metal, s k i n s g a l v a n i z i n g , heads c o n g e a l i n g to b r a s s knobs, components and i n t r i c a t e w i r es r i p e n i n g i n -s i d e . " (p.159) Words as v e h i c l e s of l o g i c , the enemy of l o v e , have .become the t o o l s and weapons o f the mechanized American-d&minated world i n which th® t r e e s d i e o f cancer, wars occur, and g e n i t a l s j o i n w h i le the i n d i -v i d u a l s a t t a c h e d t o them d e s t r o y each o t h e r . Of the f o u r main c h a r -a c t e r s , David and Anna t a l k most; Joe says very l i t t l e , the p r o t a g -o n i s t speaks mostly i n her own mind, r a r e l y communicating her thoughts and f e e l i n g s t o the o t h e r s . Joe i s a n i m a l - l i k e i n h i s p h y s i c a l ap*» pearance, and a n i m a l s , as the vanished f a t h e r p o i n t e d out, are more t r u s t w o r t h y than p e o p l e . Moreover, a l t h o u g h he does not seem t o value h e r f e e l i n g s o r want t o know about them - "What impressed him t h a t time, he even mentioned i t l a t e r , c o o l he c a l l e d i t , was the way I took my c l o t h e s o f f and put them on a g a i n l a t e r v e r y smoothly as i f I were f e e l i n g no emotion. But I r e a l l y wasn't. t (p.28) - he does l o v e her, he does seem t o be a b l e t o f e e l t h a t . As i n The  E d i b l e Woman, no f i n a l r e s o l u t i o n i s o f f e r r e d a t the end of Sur- v i v a l ; boy and g i r l do n o t n e c e s s a r i l y l i v e h a p p i l y e v e r a f t e r . I n s t e a d , a new d i r e c t i o n opens up; I f I go w i t h him we w i l l have to talk,..we can no l o n g e r l i v e i n s p u r i o u s peace by a v o i d i n g each o t h e r , the way i t was b e f o r e , we w i l l have t o b e g i n . For us i t * s n e c e s s a r y , the i n t e r c e s s i o n o f words; and we w i l l p r o b a b l y f a i l , s ooner o r l a t e r , more o r l e s s p a i n f u l l y . That's normal, i t ' s the way i t happens now and I don't know whether i t ' s worth i t or even i f I can depend on him...But he i s n ' t an American, I can see t h a t now..." (p.192) David/Anna At the b e g i n n i n g o f the n o v e l , the p r o t a g o n i s t sees D a v i d and Anna as a c o u p l e , symbolic of the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t marriage i s f e a s i b l e and l o v e e x i s t s , d e s p i t e clue§that between the two people i n t h i s marriage there i s contempt, d i s l i k e , c r u e l t y . When Anna s i n g s i n the c a r , David t u r n s on the r a d i o , but they a r e between s t a t i o n s so he w h i s t l e s t o shut h e r up. (p.9-10) For h i s f i l m - m a k i n g e f f o r t , Random Samples, she f e e l s contempt: "...she laughs about i t behind h i s back, she c a l l s i t Random  Pimples." (p.10) Though David seems imperv i o u s - t o h e r contempt he laughs o r jokes when she puts him down - she i s i n f e c t e d by h i s contempt o f h e r , t a n d c o n t r i b u t e s her own d i s l i k e o f s e l f t o t h e i r combined endeavour to put h e r downs " . . . I t o l d her she s h o u l d wear jeans or something b u t she says she l o o k s f a t i n them," (p. I l l ) She a p o l o g i z e s f o r h e r s e l f : "They must f u c k a l o t here, Anna says.,,Then she says, "Aren't I a w f u l . " (p,13) She i s p a t h e t i c i n her need t o p r e s e r v e her make-up mask:"Anna says i n a low;voice,'He doesn't l i k e t o see me without i t 9 . , . I glimpse the s u b t e r f u g e t h i s must i n v o l v e , o r i s i t d e v o t i o n * does she have t o sneak out of bed b e f o r e he's awake i n the morning and out of i t a t n i g h t w i t h the l i g h t s o u t ? " (p.44) L a t e r , as the c h a r a c t e r s , d e p r i v e d of t h e i r h a b i t u a l d i s t r a c -t i o n s , b e g i n t o show themselves more and more c l e a r l y , Anna r e v e a l s her genuine f e a r of David: "I f o r g o t my make-up, h e ' l l k i l l me." "He wants me t o l o o k - l i k e a young c h i c k a l l the time, i f I don't he gats mad." " H e ' l l get me f o r i t . He's got t h i s l i t t l e s e t o f r u l e s . I f I break one o f them I get p u n i s h e d . " 4 3 . "He watches me a l l the time, he v/aits for excuses. Then either he won't screw at a l l or he slams i t in so hard i t hurts." (p.122) At one point towards the end of their week on the island, the prot-agonist sees through her own wish-projected picture of the marriage: *I remembered what Anna had said about emotional commitmentithey've made one, I thought, they hate each other; that must be almost as absorbing as love."(p.138) But at the beginning, when their defences are s t i l l strong, the r e a l i t i e s of the relationship are s t i l l hidden by their 'quick skits* (p.44,63) perfrormed only in public under the pressure to appear lovingly married, normal, sane -though even at the beginning there are clues t "Somebody break me out a beer," he says. Anna brings him one and he pats her on the rear and says, "That's what I l i k e , service," (p.36) When the protagonist asks Anna how they manage to stay.married, Anna replies facetiously, to cover her own suspicion, but honestly without knowing i t : "We t e l l a lot of jokes." (p.47) It i s obvious that David i s in control; when he decides he wants to stay on at the cabin, Joe's assent i s enough. He overrides Anna's objection by using her guilt against her and by a veiled threat, and does not even consult the protagonist, who, signif-icantly, also submits to his decision, despite a strong desire on her part to leave. When this happens "He gives me a quick look, triumphant and appraising, as though he's just won something, not a war but a lottery." (p.71) One demand which Anna refuses to f u l f i l l , however, i s that she use the P i l l t "David wants me to go back on, he says i t ' s no worse 44. f o r you than a s p i r i n , but next time i t c o u l d be the h&art or some-t h i n g . I mean, I'm not t a k i n g those k i n d s of chances." (p,80) When they c o p u l a t e , Anna's sounds are p l e a s and "Then something d i f f e r -e nt, not a word but pure p a i n , c l e a r as water, an animal's a t the moment the t r a p c l o s e s . " (p.82) Anna's b u r i e d rage and h a t r e d s u r f a c e more and more o f t e n as the p e r i o d of t h e i r i s o l a t i o n l e n g t h e n s ; her contemptuous comments be-come sharper, both those d i r e c t e d a t David and those about him addressed to the p r o t a g o n i s t , e s p e c i a l l y a f t e r David b e g i n s t o make l e c h e r o u s remarks about her i n f r o n t of Anna, who f e e l s more and more thr e a t e n e d and d e s p e r a t e , (p.98-99) In the b r i e f argument about 'Women's L i b " , David's r e a c t i o n , though s u p e r f i c i a l l y f a c -e t i o u s , n e v e r t h e l e s s r e v e a l s Anna's f e a r as l e g i t i m a t e * "'None of t h a t Women's L i b , ' D a v i d s a i d , 'Or y o u ' l l be out on the s t r e e t . I won't have one i n the house, they're p r a c t i s i n g random c a s t r a t i o n , they get o f f on t h a t , t h e y ' r e r o v i n g the s t r e e t s i n savage bands armed with garden s h e a r s . ' " ( p . 110-111) Although t h i s seems absurd, i t i s o n l y an exaggerrated v e r s i o n of what he r e a l l y f e a r s ; "...she's t r y i n g t o c u t my b a l l s o f f . " 5p.l37) Then he adds an i n s u l t i n g remark about women, about a course " . . . f o r the house-wives how to s w i t c h on the T.V. and s w i t c h o f f t h e i r heads, t h a t 8 s a l l they r e a l l y need to know." (p.112) and when Anna r e a c t s w i t h anger he switches t o a d i s g u i s e d r e f e r e n c e to h e r s t u p i d i t y -"Goose Anna i n the bum and three days l a t e r she s q u e a l s " and then d i s t r a c t s her by drawing a t t e n t i o n t o . h e r appearance: "Cheer up, you're so cute when you're mad." (p.112) Her l e g i t i m a t e anger d e n i e d , t r i v i a l i z e d , "Anna s m i l e d a t him as though he was a'i b r a i n -damaged c h i l d . " (p.112), i n s h o r t , r e v e r t s to the a c c e p t a b l e Yole *5. of i n d u l g e n t i f contemptuous m o t h e r - s e x - o b j e c t - v i c t i m - s l a v e , David's r e a l n a s t i n e s s and c o r r u p t i o n are f i n a l l y f u l l y r e v e a l e d i n the scene on the dock.(p.134-136) He t h r e a t e n s and c o e r c e s by u s i n g p h y s i c a l f o r c e u n t i l Anna takes o f f her b i k i n i f o r Random Samples, where she w i l l be i n c l u d e d "beside the dead b i r d " (p., 134). When she a r t i c u l a t e s the t r u t h - "You're t r y i n g t o h u m i l i a t e me," he a g a i n denies her f e e l i n g s , t u r n s i t a g a i n s t her? "What's hum-i l i a t i n g about your body, d a r l i n g ? . . . That's p r e t t y s t i n g y of you, you s h o u l d share the wealth: not t h a t you don't." (p.135) When Joe o b j e c t s , he f a l l s back on the w i f e - a s - p o s s e s s e d - o b j e c t argument. He c a l l s her " t w a t f a c e " and when she comes out of the l a k e she i s . c r y i n g : "Her p i n k f a c e was d i s s o l v i n g , her s k i n was covered w i t h sand and pine n e e d l e s l i k e a burned l e e c h . " (p.136) - a reminder of how the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s b r o t h e r , as a c h i l d , t o r t u r e d l e e c h e s by throw-i n g them i n t o the f i r e . When they d e s c r i b e t h e i r f e e l i n g s toward each other, s e p a r a t e l y , to the p r o t a g o n i s t (p.98-99. 138). i t i s apparent t h a t a l l they have l e f t i s contempt, h a t r e d , power games; but Anna sees f a r t h e r than D a v i d : " I t used to be good, then I s t a r t e d to r e a l l y l o v e him and he c a n ' t stand t h a t , he c a n ' t stand h a v i n g me r e a l l y l o v e him. I s n ' t t h a t funny?" (p,123) The p r o t a g o n i s t , s e n s i n g t h a t when Anna says l o v e she means need, sees f a r t h e r s t i l l 1 They know e v e r y t h i n g about each other, I thought, t h a t ' s why they're so sad; but Anna was more than sad, she was desperate, her body her o n l y weapon and she was f i g h t i n g f o r h e r l i f e , he was her l i f e , her l i f e was the f i g h t : she was f i g h t i n g him because i f she e v e r surrendered the balance of power would be broken abd he would go elsewhere. To continue the war.(p.153-4) But they are r e - u n i t e d when they d i s c o v e r a common enemy, the p r o t a g o n i s t , who has i n c u r r e d David's h a t r e d and wrath by not l e t t i n g him screw her, and Anna's because he thought he wanted t o i a l s o because the p r o t a g o n i s t wouldn't: "...she r e s e n t e d me because I hadn't g i v e n i n , i t commented on h e r . " (p.154) Hatred f o r a t h i r d person r e - u n i t e s them, takes t h e i r minds o f f t h e i r s e l f - h a t r e d and h a t r e d of each other, t e m p o r a r i l y a t l e a s t ; and the p r o t a g o n i s t sees t h i s c l e a r l y enough; when they t e l l h e r her f a t h e r i s dead she i s on guard a g a i n s t t h e i r u n i t e d a t t a c k i n g f r o n t , (p.157-8) 47. Man vs Woman Surfacing explores themes of e x p l o i t a t i o n and v i c t i m i z a t i o n i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p s not only "between i n d i v i d u a l women and men but als o between r u l i n g groups such as Americans, Anglo-Saxon Can-adians and men i n general, and t h e i r victims, r e s p e c t i v e l y , Canadians, French-Canadians, Indians, and women* and also between Man and Nature, which includes a l l l i v i n g creatures under h i s domination - white birches, herons, animals, women. This web or chain of oppression forms a c l o s e l y - i n t e r l o c k e d pattern i n the novel, and of a l l i t s aspects, the p o l i t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p between men and women i n general i s one of the most f u l l y developed and savagely condemned. The theme i s introduced with small subtle touches early i n the book, and swells i n volume and lVensity as the book progresses, both as i t i s explored s p e c i f i c a l l y between i n d i v i d u a l characters and as i t i s developed generally, between: Man and Woman. Ear l y i n the story, Paul asks, "jYour husband i s here too?'... •Yes, he's here'...What he means i s that a man should be handling t h i s i Joe w i l l do as a stand-in. My status i s . a problem, they obviously think I'm married. But I'm safe, I'm wearing my r i n g . . . * (p.23) What he also means i s that she, a woman, i s too f r a g i l e and puny to handle i t h e r s e l f , whereas a man,- owing to h i s sup-e r i o r strength, would be able to r i s e to the occasion. In short, the kind of condescending protective c h i v a l r y which has encour-aged women to remain weak, helpless and dependent a l l t h e i r l i v e s . When she remembers a scene with her 'husband' another f a c e t of the same attitude-pattern i s revealedJ'...I'm t a l k i n g and his mouth turns i n d u l g e n t . " 9 ( p . 2 3 ) and l a t e r , in another flashback, 48. a d i r e c t c o n n e c t i o n i s made between the a t t i t u d e and how i t a f f e c t s the l i v e s of women* For a while I was g o i n g t o be a r e a l a r t i s t ; he thought t h a t was cute but misguided, he s a i d I should s t u d y something I'd be abl e t o use because there have never been any important woman a r t i s t s . That was b e f o r e we were married and I s t i l l l i s t e n e d t o what he s a i d , so I went i n t o Design and d i d f a b r i c p a t t e r n s . But he was r i g h t , there never have been any. (p.52) No wonder, wit h t h a t k i n d o f encouragement. The a t t i t u d e o f the fak e husband not o n l y toward the p r o t a g o n i s t but a l s o toward women i n g e n e r a l , i s n o t uncommon* A f t e r the murder, the s l a u g h t e r , he c o u l d n ' t b e l i e v e I d i d n ' t want t o see him anymore; i t b e w i l d e r e d him, he re s e n t e d me f o r i t , he expected g r a t i t u d e because he arranged i t f o r me, f i x e d me so I was as good as new; o t h e r s , he s a i d , wouldn't have bothered, ** (p. 145) The p a t t e r n i s graced from c h i l d h o o d t o pres e n t ; l y i n g i n what was h e r bedroom as a c h i l d , the p r o t a g o n i s t l o o k s a t the p i c -t u r e s on the w a l l s * "Ladies i n e x o t i c costumes, sausage r o l l s o f h a i r a c r o s s t h e i r f o r e h e a d s , w i t h p u f f e d , r e d mouths and eye-l a s h e s l i k e t o o t h b r u s h b r i s t l e s * when I was t e n I b e l i e v e d i n glamour, i t was a k i n d o f r e l i g i o n . . . " (p.42) She t h i n k s o f paper d o l l s w i t h "paper d r e s s e s no p r o t e c t i o n a g a i n s t the i c y wind" and " i n t e r m i n a b l e changing of costumes, a s l a v e r y o f pleasure."... (p.-43) In f a c t , the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s c a r e e r , suggested by her l o v e r and c o n t r o l l e d by her boss, a male p u b l i s h e r , i n -c l u d e s work which p e r p e t u a t e s the myth t h a t feminine worth e q u a l s p l a s t i c 'beauty*. When Anna loo k s a t . h e r drawings o f a f a i r y t a l e p r i n c e s s f o r a c h i l d r e n ' s book, she asks, "Did you believe- t h a t s t u f f when you were l i t t l e ? , , . I d i d , I thought I was r e a l l y a p r i n c e s s and I'd end up l i v i n g i n a c a s t l e . They s h o u l d n ' t l e t k i d s have s t u f f l i k e t h a t , * She goes to the m i r r o r , then stands on t i p t o e , c h e c k i n g her back t o see i f i t ' s p i n k . (p.58) 49. The juxtaposition of word and act here i s i r o n i c , f o r even i f Anna no longer believes the f a i r y t a l e , she i s s t i l l t r y i n g - desperately, p a t h e t i c a l l y - to l i v e out the legend. Her white bell-bottoms, her makeup and dedicated sunning, her fear and anger - a l l t e s t i f y to the f a c t that she s t i l l believes i t : 'Is my nose peeling?' she asks, rubbing i t . From her hat^ibag she takes a round g i l t compact with v i o l e t s on the cover.She opens i t , unclosing her other s e l f . . . performing the only magic l e f t to her. Rump on a packsack, harem cushion, pink on the cheeks and black d i s c r e e t l y around the eyes, as red as blood as black as ebony..,She takes her clothes o f f or puts them on, paper d o l l wardrobe,.. Anna s i t s , darkness i n her eye sockets, s k u l l with a candle, (p.165) The childhood scrapbooks i l l u s t r a t e the childhood myths of masculine and feminine: f o r the brother, violence, aggression, c o n f l i c t , death machines - "explosions i n red and orange, s o l d i e r s dismembering in the a i r , planes and tanks", (p.9 0 ) , swastikas, flame-throwers, trum-pet-shaped p i s t o l s , ray-guns; and f o r the s i s t e r s , " l a d i e s , a l l kinds: holding up cans of cleanser, k n i t t i n g , smiling, modelling toeless high hegli . women' s dresses clipped from mail order catalogues no bodies i n them." (p. 9 1 ) Yet along with the pressure, during childhood, to value the paper images of feminine 'beauty', was another pressurej to despise the r e a l i t y . Neither David nor Anna, apparently, can endure her r e a l face, naked of makeup. Breasts to be acceptable should be "brassiere shaped" (p.2 5 ) In the v i l l a g e store the protagonist notes that The old pr;*4st i s d e f i n i t e l y gone, he disapproved of slacks, the women had to wear long concealing s k i r t s and dark stock-ings and keep t h e i r arms covered i n church.- Shorts--were a-gainst the law, and many of them l i v e d a l l t h e i r l i v e s be-side the lake without learning to swim because they were ashamed to put on bathing s u i t s , (p.25) 50. The a c t u a l body i s d i s g u s t i n g : 'cunt' and ' t t f a t f a c e ' are aimed as i n s u l t s , and David's way of h u m i l i a t i n g Anna i s to f o r c e h e r to be f i l m e d without c l o t h e s . When the p r o t a g o n i s t remains behind on the i s l a n d and s t r i p s h e r s e l f of c i v i l i z a t i o n i n order t o r e c e i v e mes-sages from her dead p a r e n t s , she l o o k s i n t o the m i r r o r and t h i n k s : They would never b e l i e v e i t ' s o n l y a n a t u r a l woman, s t a t e o f n a t u r e , they t h i n k of t h a t as a tanned body on a beach w i t h washed h a i r waving l i k e s c a r v e s ; n o t t h i s , f a c e d i r t -caked and s t r e a k e d , s k i n grimed and scabby, h a i r l i k e a f r a y e d bathmat s t u c k w i t h l e a v e s and twigs. A new k i n d of c e n t r e f o l d . (p.190) ».' Other c h i l d h o o d i n f l u e n c e s , designed t o t u r n g i r l humans i n t o i n -human l a d i e s and boy humans i n t o inhumane r . v i men: " . . . i n s c h o o l i t was worse f o r a g i r l to ask q u e s t i o n s than f o r a boy." (p.97) "A l a d y was what you dr e s s e d up as on Hallowe'en when you c o u l d n ' t t h i n k o f a n y t h i n g e l s e and d i d n ' t want t o be.a ghost; o r i t was what you s a i d a t s c h o o l when they asked you what you were g o i n g t o be when you grew up, you s a i d 'a l a d y ' o r 'A mother', e i t h e r one was s a f e . . . " The p r o t a g o n i s t ' s b r o t h e r had a ' l a b o r a t o r y ' i n which s m a l l c r e a t u r e s d i e d (p.131); she rescued them once but He was so angry he was p a l e , h i s eyes t w i s t e d as though he c o u l d n ' t see me. 'They were mine,' he s a i d . Afterwards he trapped o t h e r t h i n g s but changed the p l a c e ; t h i s time he wouldn't t e l l me. I found i t anyway but I was a f r a i d t o l e t them out a g a i n , Because of my f e a r they were k i l l e d , (p.131) (The p r o t a g o n i s t t h i n k s of h e r s e l f as an accomplice, and s u f f e r s an accomplice's g u i l t , when David f i s h e s f o r s p o r t and when she remem-b e r s the a b o r t i o n , but not, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , when David and Joe hum-i l i a t e Anna on the dock,) Her r e c o l l e c t i o n on her c h i l d h o o d ' v i s i o n o f Heaven' makes v i v i d the c o n t r a s t between h e r s e l f and her b r o t h e r : 51. I didn't want there to be wars and death,, I wanted them not to exist; only rabbits with their coloured egg houses, sun and moon orderly above the f l a t earth, summer always, I wanted everyone to be happy. But his pictures were more accurate, the weapons, the disintegrating soldiers i he was a r e a l i s t , that protected him. (p. 131) The brother's assertion of ownership of the creatures in the jars in his 'laboratory'.is echoed by Joe when David comments on the prota-gonist's 'jrjeat ass' and he replies 'You can have i t ' , (p.90) and by David when Joe objects to his treatment of Anna: "Shut up, she's my wife".(p,135) When the searchers come to the island to look for the protagonist, she runs away: "They can't be trusted. They'll mistake me for a human being, a naked woman wrapped in a blanket: possibly that's what they've come here for, i f i t ' s running around loose, ownerless, why not take i t . " (p.183) A direct link i s pointed out between a world which includes H i t l e r and boyhood scrapbooks with rayguns, and individuals in that world who can neither f e e l nor love and are therefore capable of perpet-uating the horrors in bed, both Joe and the protagonist are impot-ent to comfort the other: . ... * ...we were both afraid of fai l u r e ; we lay with our backs to each other...Romance comic books, on the cover always a pink face oozing tears like a melting popsicle; men's magazines were about pleasure, cars and women, the skins bald as inner tubes. In a way i t was a r e l i e f , to be ex-empt from feeling, (p.112) While the protagonist and Anna weed the garden they exchange opinions about the P i l l , and Anna echoes the feeling of many women when she says, "'Bastards...They're so smart, you think.they'd be able to come up with, something that'd work without k i l l i n g you. David wants me to go back on, he says i t ' s no worse for you than aspirin..." (p.80) The feelings of fear and vulnerability which women have when they realize that their bodies and lives are controlled by men, for whom 5-2. men's i n t e r e s t s take p r i o r i t y , are expressed i n d i r e c t l y when Anna says t h a t sometimes she t h i n k s David would l i k e h e r to d i e . The sub-j e c t of b i r t h c o n t r o l t r i g g e r s i n the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s mind a f l a s h -back to h e r a b o r t i o n : .•.they shut you i n t o a h o s p i t a l , they shave the h a i r o f f you and t i e your hands down and they don't l e t you see, they don't want you to understand, they want you to b e l i e v e i t ' s t h e i r power, not yours. They s t i c k n e e d l e s i n t o you" so you won't hear a n y t h i n g , you might as w e l l be a dead p i g , your l e g s are up i n a metal frame, they bend over you, t e c h n i c i a n s , mechanics, b u t c h e r s , s t u d e n t s clumsy and s n i g -g e r i n g p r a c t i s i n g on your body, they take the baby out w i t h a f o r k l i k e a p i c k l e out of a p i c k l e j a r . A f t e r t h a t they f i l l y our v e i n s up w i t h r e d p l a s t i c , (p.80) The Women's L i b e r a t i o n Movement r e p r e s e n t s the primary p o t e n t i a l f o r change i n the m u t u t a l l y d e s t r u c t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p between the sexes, y e t none o f the c h a r a c t e r s understand i t 1 David r e a c t s sup-e r s t i t i o u s l y , w i t h f e a r and b l u s t e r e d t h r e a t s i n the g u i s e of humour (p.110), Anna grasps c e r t a i n r e a l i t i e s but i s unable t o a c t on them, and the p r o t a g o n i s t a v o i d s the i s s u e with an'ambiguous remark: "I s a i d , °I t h i n k men ought t o be s u p e r i o r . * But n e i t h e r o f them heard the a c t u a l wordsi Anna looked a t me as though I'd b e t r a y e d h e r and s a i d , 'Wow are you e v e r brainwashed', and D a v i d s a i d 'Want a j o b ? ' and t o Joe, 'Hear t h a t , you're s u p e r i o r . ' ( p . I l l ) She does n o t c l a r i f y her remark, nor does she g i v e Anna any s u p p o r t when she s a y s , " I ' l l j o i n i f you w i l l . " ( p . I l l ) When David accuses the p r o t a g o n i s t of h a t i n g men, she moves a s t e p c l o s e r to u n d e r s t a n d i n g how she l o s t her a b i l i t y t o f e e l and to l o v e : " . . . I r e a l i z e d i t wasn't the men I hated,, i t was the Americans, the human b e i n g s , men and women both. They'd had t h e i r chance but they had turned a g a i n s t the gods..." (p.15*0 She a l s o r e v e a l s , i n -a d v e r t a n t l y , t h a t she h e r s e l f i s i n f e c t e d w i t h the same p o i s o n she hates i n them: " . . * I wanted t h e r e to be a machine t h a t c o u l d make •" 53. ' them v a n i s h , a bu t t o n I c o u l d p r e s s t h a t would evaporate them..." (p.154) But altho u g h both she and Anna are p o l l u t e d too, i t i s t r u e t h a t , e x c e p t f o r t h e m ^ a l l the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f l o g i c , of American-ism, o f the e x p l o i t a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n o f Nature and l i f e i t s e l f i n the n o v e l , are male. In f a c t , a l l the men i n the n o v e l are c a r -r i e r s o f death: her f a t h e r (p.186), Joe (p.146-7). her l o v e r , Mr.'. Malmstrom and the o t h e r Americans, the Americanized Canadians, and e s p e c i a l l y D a v i d : "Second-hand American was s p r e a d i n g over him i n pa t c h e s , l i k e mange o r l i c h e n . He was i n f e s t e d , g a r b l e d , and I c o u l d n ' t h e l p him: i t would take such time t o h e a l , u n e a r t h him, scr a p e him down t o where he was t r u e . . M o r e than e v e r I needed t o f i n d i t , the t h i n g she had hidden, the power from my f a t h e r ' s i n -t e r c e s s i o n wasn't enough t o p r o t e c t me, i t gave o n l y knowledge and th e r e were more gods than h i s , h i s were the gods of the head, a n t l e r s r o o t e d i n the b r a i n . Not o n l y how t o see but how t o a c t . " ( p . 1 5 2 - 3 ) And, a f t e r she f i n d s h er mother's legac y , she does a c t t she r e l e a s e s the images trapped as Random Samples i n David's f i l m : t r e e , f i s h , heron, woman, (p.166) j u s t as she r e l e a s e d the c r e a t u r e s trapped by h e r b r o t h e r y e a r s ago. So as t o d e s t r o y the f i l m c o m p l e t e l y and secure t h e i r r e l e a s e , she l e t s the f i l m f a l l i n t o the l a k e , which i s "blue and c l e a r as redemption', (p.15) L a t e r i t occurs t o her, ^Anna's s o u l c l o s e d i n the g o l d compact, t h a t and not the camera i s what I s h o u l d have broken." (p.175) Before woman can be r e a l l y f r e e the d e s t r u c t i v e s e l f - i m a g e peddled by c a p i t a l i s t s must a l s o be des-t r o y e d . L a t e r , when she sees the b e i n g by the garden, what h e r f a t h e r has become o r what she i s , she r e a l i z e s t h a t " l o g i c e x c l u d e s l o v e . " (p.186) : n " " 5 4 , * n S u r f a c i n g , Woman i s seen as c l o s e r t o f e e l i n g s , l i f e and Nature than Man. But r a t h e r than u s i n g t h i s view as. a g u & t i f i c a t i o n o / ! o f women's o p p r e s s i o n , Atwood a f f i r m s these t r a d i t i o n a l l y f e m i n i n e q u a l i t i e s and suggests t h a t they are e s s e n t i a l . f o r s u r v i v a l , b o t h of i n d i v i d u a l s i n t h e i r , p e r s o n a l l i v e s and of humankind i t s e l f . There are t h r e e passages which, when p l a c e d s i d e by s i d e , s u ggest t h a t l o v e , f e e l i n g , c a r i n g f o r l i f e - t r a d i t i o n a l l y the 'emotional i n t u i t i v e * ghetto t o which women have been r e l e g a t e d as a means of e x c l u d i n g them from most human a c t i v i t y - may, be the o n l y way to w i t h s t a n d the i n f e s t a t i o n of 'second-hand American?! "Do you r e a l i z e , " D avid says, " t h a t t h i s c o u n t r y i s founded on the bo d i e s o f dead animals? Dead f i s h , dead s e a l s , and h i s t o r i c a l l y dead beavers, the beaver i s t o t h i s c o u n t r y what the b l a c k man i s to the U n i t e d S t a t e s . Not o n l y t h a t , i n New York i t ' s now a d i r t y word, beaver. I t h i n k t h a t ' s v e r y s i g n i f i c a n t . " (p.40) "That's what they s h o u l d have put on the f l a g i n s t e a d o f a maple l e a f , a s p l i t b e a v e r j I'd s a l u t e t h a t . " "Why should i t be s p l i t ? " I s a i d . I t was l i k e s k i n n i n g the c a t , I d i d n ' t get i t . He looked exasperated. " I t ' s a jo k e , " he s a i d ; and when I s t i l l d i d n ' t laugh, "Where've you been l i v i n g . I t ' s s l a n g f o r cunt." (p.119) " I f we c o u l d o n l y k i c k out the f a s c i s t p i g Yanks and the c a p i t a l i s t s t h i s would be a neat c o u n t r y . But then, who would be l e f t ? " "How?" I say. "How would you k i c k them o u t ? " "Organize the be a v e r s , " David says, "chew them t o p i e c e s , i t ' s the o n l y way." (p.39) A l l o f these pronouncements are David's and t h e r e f o r e s u s p e c t t but the c o n n e c t i o n s are t h e r e n o n e t h e l e s s , and moreover they are con-s i s t e n t w i t h the r e s t o f the book. Woman t o Woman L i k e Marian and A i n s l e y i n The E d i b l e Woman, the p r o t a g o n i s t of S u r f a c i n g and Anna n e i t h e r know each o t h e r w e l l n o r f e e l the need t o d e v e l o p t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p : "She's my best f r i e n d , my b e s t woman f r i e n d ; I've known h e r two months." (p.1 0 ) There i s , i n f a c t , a s u b t l e undertone o f contempt i n the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s f l a t d r y d e s c r i p t i o n s o£ Anna's appearance and behaviour, (p.4 3 , 1 6 3 ) - which i s n o t s u r p r i s i n g ^ n a s o c i e t y t h a t t r a i n s both men and women t o r e g a r d women w i t h contempt. The p r o t a g o n i s t remains a l o o f from Anna, r e j e c t i n g h e r sympathy w i t h an i n n e r o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t r e v e a l s h e r contempt: "Are you okay?" she says . "Sure,"I say; the q u e s t i o n s u r p r i s e s me. "I'm s o r r y he wasn't h e r e , " she says m o u r n f u l l y , g a z i n g a t me out o f h e r round green eyes as though i t ' s h e r g r i e f , h e r c a t a s t r o p h e . " I t ' s a l l r i g h t , " I t e l l her, c o m f o r t i n g h e r , . . ( p . 3 ? ) To r e v e a l g r i e f and c o n f u s i o n , which the p r o t a g o n i s t has been f e e l -i n g , would be t o r e v e a l v u l n e r a b i l i t y : the p r o t a g o n i s t m a i n t a i n s an appearance o f s t r e n g t h and c o n t r o l by r e v e r s i n g the em o t i o n a l c u r -r e n t so t h a t she ends up c o m f o r t i n g Anna, L a t e r i n the n o v e l she a g a i n r e j e c t s an o f f e r of i n t i m a c y from Anna, and a g a i n ^ e r i n n e r monologue r e v e a l s contempt: "I t h i n k she wanted us t o exchange more c o n f i d e n c e s , she wanted to t a l k about her o t h e r d i s e a s e s , but I kept on weeding." (p.81) Although Anna's o f f e r of a f e m i n i s t a l l i a n c e i s made h a l f - j o k i n g l y -(p.110), i t a l s o i s r e j e c t e d by the p r o t a g o n i s t , whose e v a s i v e response i s m i s i n t e r p r e t e d . , and who does not t r o u b l e t o c o r r e c t t h e i r e r r o r . In f a c t , Anna's t i m i d g e s t u r e s i n the d i r e c t i o n of Women's L i b e r a t i o n o c c u r through-out the n o v e l ; she p r o b a b l y would j o i n , w i t h a . b i t of encouragement, and i t c o u l d s a f e l y be taken f o r granted t h a t . i t would be good f o r he r . But l a c k i n g any s t r o n g l y - d e v e l o p e d f e m i n i s t e t h i c , the two women become a n t a g o n i s t s as soon as Dav i d b e g i n s t o make s u g g e s t i v e comments i n the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s d i r e c t i o n . Her g u i l t and sense of c o m p l i c i t y i n the a t r o c i t i e s p e r p e t r a t e d by boys and men on l i v i n g c r e a t u r e s does not extend as f a r as Anna. In the b r u t a l scene on the dock when David abuses and h u m i l i a t e s Anna, the p r o t a g o n i s t makes no move to defend h e n "The canoes were th e r e and I needed one o f them but i t was too dangerous." (p.13*0 I wanted t o run down t o the dock and s t o p them, f i g h t i n g was wrong, we weren't allowed t o , i f we d i d both s i d e s got punished as i n a r e a l w a r . . . a f t e r a while I never f oughtvibabkibeeauseRlrneveriwon. ;Thet o n l y ^ defense was f l i g h t , : i n v i s i b i l i t y ; I s a t down on;.the.1 top s t e p . (p. 135) When A n n a c l i m b s up the h i l l t o the c a b i n , c r y i n g , the p r o t a g o n i s t a g a i n f a i l s t o o f f e r sympathy o r warmth, and when she asks D a v i d why he d i d i t , she r e a l i z e s t h a t h e r reason f o r a s k i n g i s s e l f i s h ; "I r e a l i z e d i t wasn't f o r Anna I was a s k i n g , I wasn't defending* her; i t was f o r myself, I needed to understand. " (p. 13?) At f i r s t , Anna expresses n o t contempt toward.the p r o t a g o n i s t but warmth, u n t i l David s t a r t s t o p l a y h i s " l i t t l e game. Then she be-comes h o s t i l e and a g g r e s s i v e . In the k i t c h e n where they are d o i n g d i s h e s she t e l l s the p r o t a g o n i s t t h a t i f David makes a pass a t her, i t has n o t h i n g a t a l l t o do wit h her; "She r a i s e d h e r head, s m i l -i n g , f r i e n d l y a g a i n . ' I thought I should warn you so you'd know i f he grabs you or a n y t h i n g i t won't have much t o do with you, i t ' s a l l about me r e a l l y . " The p r o t a g o n i s t r e f l e c t s , n a i v e l y , " . . . I t 57. was k i n d of her, thoughtful} I knew i n her p l a c e I wouldn't have done i t , I would have l e t her take care of h e r s e l f . My B r o t h e r ' s Keeper always reminded me of zoos and insane asylums," (p.9 9 ) Having a l l o w e d h e r s e l f t o "be manipulated i n t o a p o s i t i o n h o s t i l e t o the p r o t a g o n i s t , Anna becomes v i c i o u s . At d i n n e r of the day when David h u m i l i a t e s Anna and makes h i s f u t i l e u g l y attempt t o seduce the p r o t a g o n i s t , she watches them a t war: I d i d n ' t want to j o i n . " I t ' s not what you t h i n k , " I s a i d t o Anna. "He asked me t o but I wouldn't," I wanted t o t e l l her I hadn't a c t e d a g a i n s t her. Her eyes f l i c k e d from him t o me. "That.was pure o f you," she s a i d . I'd made a mistake, she r e s e n t e d me because I hadn't g i v e n i n , i t commented on her, (p.15^) (But t h a t i s p r o b a b l y n o t the o n l y reason f o r Anna's f a i l u r e t o be impressed o r p l a c a t e d : f o r her i t ' s a hollow o f f e r i n g , s i n c e she i s no doubt aware t h a t i t r e q u i r e d no g r e a t e f f o r t on the p r o t a g -o n i s t ' s p a r t t o r e f r a i n , ) Her c o l d v i c i o u s n e s s i s expressed c a l l o u s l y , i n the form of a joke, on the day they l e a v e the i s l a n d , David i s t a l k i n g pompously about Random Samples iapd.-Ar-na "There's p a r t of a r e e l l e f t , " Anna say s . "You'should get her, you got me but you never got me." She l o o k s a t me, fumes asc e n d i n g from her nose and mouth,,. He^assesses me. "Where would we f i t her i n though? We don't have anyone f u c k i n g y e t ; but I'd have to do i t " , he says t o Joe," we need you r u n n i n g the camera," "I c o u l d run the camera," Anna says, "and you c o u l d b o t h do i t , " and everyone laughs, (p.165) Yet when the p r o t a g o n i s t unwinds the f i l m and l e t s i t s p i r a l i n t o the l a k e , i n a symbolic attempt t o l i b e r a t e the l i v i n g c r e a t u r e s whose s o u l S have perhaps been captured by camera or gun, Anna makes no move to s t o p her. She warns, "You b e t t e r not do t h a t . . . t h e y ' l l k i l l you.'" " ' T h e y ' l l get you.'" "But she doesn't i n t e r f e r e , she doesn't c a l l them. (p.166) D e s p i t e h e r h o s t i l i t y toward the o t h e r woman, she doesn't t e l l them u n t i l a f t e r the ..protagonist has made her escape, and then o n l y to a v o i d b e i n g punished as an a c c o m p l i c e . I t i s the o n l y moment of a n y t h i n g r e s e m b l i n g c o - o p e r a t i o n and understand i n g and s i s t e r h o o d throughout the n o v e l . L i k e the p o r t r a i t of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between A i n s l e y and Marian, the p o r t r a i t of t h a t between the p r o t a g o n i s t and Anna exhibits on a p e r s o n a l l e v e l the c h r o n i c m i s t r u s t , m u t u i a l d e s t r u c t i v e n e s s and r i v a l r y which weaken women e c o n o m i c a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y . Unable to form s t r o n g l a s t i n g bonds wi t h one another, they n e i t h e r seek nor f i n d support and s t r e n g t h i n one another, which i n c r e a s e s t h e i r v u l n e r a b i l i t y and a v a i l a b i l i t y as v i c t i m s , both i n p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n -s h i p s and i n s o c i e t y as a whole. No a l t e r n a t i v e p a t t e r n i s sug-gested i n e i t h e r n o v e l , and i t i s o n l y because of the c o n t r a s t with a l t e r n a t i v e s i n the Women's Movement t h a t the l a c k i s n o t i c e a b l e . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the p r o t a g o n i s t and her mother i s sketched i n o n l y a few p a g e g , p y e t ^ l i k e a pebble dropped i n a pond i t s mean-i n g moves throughout the e n t i r e book. I t i s the s t r o n g e s t f o r c e which makes S u r f a c i n g what S t a n l e y F i s h would d e s c r i b e as a s e l f -consuming a r t i f a c t , i t s f i n a l meaning a r e f u t a t i o n of i t s e l f . What Atwood attempts t o accomplish by means of s t y l i s t i c changes toward the end of the n o v e l is,more s u c c e s s f u l l y achieved, i n my view, i n the c o n n e c t i o n s between the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p with her mother, her own dilemma of numb n o - f e e l i n g , and her i n t e r i m ' s o l u t i o n to t h a t dilemma, which i s the r e s u l t of g u i l t and c o n f l i c t about he r a b o r t i o n . The r e s o l u t i o n , another pregnancy, can s c a r c e l y be taken s e r i o u s l y »n f o r -a. number of reasons! you cannot atone f o r the 59. death o f one c h i l d by c o n c e i v i n g another u n l e s s the c h i l d r e n are f e l t t o be n o t h i n g more than an e x t e n s i o n of y o u r s e l f , i n which case such a r e s o l u t i o n i s susp e c t because of what i t i m p l i e s about your love f o r them; moreover, i n simple p r a c t i c a l terms, i t i s d i f -f i c u l t t o imagine a happy o r even adequate outcome of a s i t u a t i o n i n which a woman r o m a n t i c a l l y d e c i d e s t o reproduce, on v. h e r own, i n a s o c i e t y such as the one of which the p r o t a g o n i s t i s a p a r t . One cannot a v o i d a d e p r e s s i n g v i s i o n of the two of them l i v i n g i n a basement apartment on w e l f a r e . The c o n n e c t i o n between the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s f e e l i n g s about h e r mother and her attempt t o co n c e i v e i s d i r e c t and unmistakeable. A f t e r h e r descent i n t o the l a k e where she sees her f a t h e r ' s body, which she immediately d e n i e s by i n t e r p r e t i n g the s i g h t as a v i s i o n o f h e r • dead c h i l d , and a f t e r h er r e j e c t i o n of Joe as another male symbol of death, she r e f l e c t s * I t would be r i g h t f o r my mother t o have l e f t something f o r me a l s o , a l e g a c y . H i s was com p l i c a t e d , t a n g l e d , b ut he r s would be simple as a hand, i t would be f i n a l , (p.1 ^ 9 ) Then, a f t e r her en»ervating c o n t a c t w i t h David's f o u l n e s s : More than e v e r I needed to f i n d i t , the t h i n g she had hidden; the power from my f a t h e r ' s i n t e r c e s s i o n wasn't enough to p r o t e c t me, i t gave o n l y knowledge and the r e were more gods than h i s , h i s were the gods o f the head, a n t l e r s r o o t e d i n the b r a i n . Not onl y how to see but how t o a c t . (p. 1 5 3 ) Her mother's l e g a c y i s a c h i l d h o o d drawing: On the l e f t was a woman wit h a round moon stomach: the baby was s i t t i n g up i n s i d e h er g a z i n g out...The baby was myself b e f o r e I was bom, the man was God. ..That was what the p i c t u r e s had meant then b ut t h e i r f i r s t meaning was l o s t now l i k e the meanings o f the r o c k p a i n t i n g s . They were my guides, she had saved them f o r me, p i c t o g r a p h s , I had to read t h e i r new meaning with the h e l p of the p o w e r . F i r s t I had to immerse myself i n the o t h e r language, (p.158) -.60. Her f i r s t a c t a f t e r t h i s i s to mate wi t h Joe i n a d e l i b e r a t e attempt to conceive. On the i s l a n d , one of the v i s i o n s which a l l o w her escape from her s h e l l of numbness and g u i l t i s the v i s i o n of her mother f e e d i n g the b i r d s . And a f t e r the v i s i o n of her f a t h e r , she f i n a l l y dreams ending the long p e r i o d when she had not had dreams and had f e l t t h e i r absence as a lacks During the n i g h t , I had a dream about them, the way they were when they were a l i v e and becoming o l d e r ; they are i n a boat, the green canoe, heading out of the bay. (p.188) She has a r r i v e d at an acceptance of t h e i r deaths and of the f a c t t h a t they were, a f t e r a l l , human: ' Our mother, c o l l e c t i n g the seasons and the weather and her c h i l d r e n ' s f a c e s , the meticulous records t h a t a l i o , wed her to omit the other t h i n g s , the pain and i s o l a t i o n and whatever i t was she was f i g h t i n g a g a i n s t , something i n a vanished h i s t o r y , I can never know.They are out of reach, they belong to themselves, more than ever. (p.190) In my o p i n i o n , of the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s v i s i o n s and the a c t s which re s u i t from them, her mother's legacy and her attempt to conceive are the only ones which do not r i n g t r u e . T h i s , along w i t h the simple obvious o b j e c t i o n s to pregnancy as a cure f o r anybody's .. i l l s , leads me to the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t S u r f a c i n g o f f e r s no more than. The E d i b l e Woman - an i n t e r i m r e s o l u t i o n to some of the con-f l i c t , very s t r o n g l y q u a l i f i e d by the i m p l i c a t i o n , t h a t not even an i n t e r i m r e s o l u t i o n to any c o n f l i c t can be s u p p l i e d by words on a page; th a t any f i n a l t r u t h , l i k e love or beauty or wisdom, i s ultimately unapproachable through the medium of words. •. 6 2 . The P r o t a g o n i s t vs H e r s e l f The c e n t r a l r e l a t i o n s h i p i n S u r f a c i n g i s between the nameless p r o t -a g o n i s t and h e r s e l f . E a r l y i n the n o v e l , she remembers Anna's r e a d i n g h e r palm, and h e r q u e s t i o n t "Are you a twin?" I s a i d No. "Are you p o s i t i v e " , she s a i d , because some of your l i n e s are double.", Her index f i n g e r t r a c e d raei "You had a good c h i l d r e h o o d but then t h e r e ' s t h i s funny break." (p.8) When Anna remarks t h a t she was l u c k y h e r marriage was c h i l d l e s s , s h e t h i n k s about the baby she 'abandoned*» I have t o behave as thought i t doesn't e x i s t , because f o r me i t c a n ' t , i t was taken away from me, exported, d e p o r t e d . A s e c t i o n of my own l i f e , s l i c e d o f f from me l i k e a Siamese twin, my own f l e s h c a n c e l l e d . Lapse, r e l a p s e r I have t o f o r g e t , (p. 48) In h e r s e a r c h f o r the moment of the break, u>|jfeh she has f o r g o t t e n i n a f u t i l e attempt to p r o t e c t h e r s e l f from p a i n , she goes through c h i l d h o o d r e l i c s i n the c a b i n , one o f them a photo albumt I t was no l o n g e r h i s death but my own t h a t concerned raej perhaps I would be a b l e to t e l l when the change o c c u r r e d by the d i f f e r e n c e s i n my former f a c e s , a l i v e up t o a y e a r , a day, then f r o z e n . The duchess a t the French c o u r t b e f o r e the R e v o l u t i o n , who stopped l a u g h i n g o r c r y i n g so h e r s k i n would never change o r w r i n k l e , i t worked, she died immortal, (p.107) But the s e a r c h i s u n s u c c e s s f u l : No h i n t s o r f a c t s , I d i d n ' t know when i t had happened. I must have been a l l r i g h t then; but a f t e r t h a t I'd a l l o w e d m y self t o be c u t i n two. Woman sawn a p a r t i n a wooden c r a t e , wearing a b a t h i n g s u i t , s m i l i n g , , a t r i c k done w i t h m i r r o r s , I read i t i n a comic book} o n l y w i t h me t h e r e had been an a c c i d e n t and I came a p a r t . The o t h e r h a l f , the one l o c k e d away, was the o n l y one t h a t c o u l d l i v e } I was the wrong h a l f , detached, t e r m i n a l . I was n o t h i n g but a head, o r no, something minor l i k e a severed thumb} numb. At s c h o o l they used t o p l a y a joke, they would b r i n g l i t t l e boxes w i t h c o t t o n wool i n them and a h o l e c u t i n the b o t -tom; they would poke t h e i r f i n g e r through the h o l e and p r e t e n d i t was a dead f i n g e r , (p.108) One of the symptoms of the s p l i t i n the p r o t a g o n i s t i s the con-v i c t i o n t h a t i t i s necessary and d e s i r a b l e to suppress emotionJ I'm s t a r t i n g to shake...I'11 s t a r t c r y i n g , t h a t would be h o r r i b l e , none of them would know what to do and n e i t h e r would I . I b i t e down i n t o the cone and I can't f e e l any-t h i n g f o r a minute but the k n i f e r - h a r d p a i n up the s i d e of my f a c e . Anaesthesia, t h a t ' s one technique? i f i t h u r t s i n v e n t a d i f f e r e n t p a i n . I'm a l l r i g h t , (p. 13.) A n a e s t h e t i z i n g h e r s e l f by i n v e n t i n g d i f f e r e n t pains i s , i n f a c t , e x a c t l y what she has done: husband and abandoned c h i l d f o r e x p l o i t -i n g l o v e r and aborted f e t u s . r-As i n The E d i b l e Woman, where the other c h a r a c t e r s p r a i s e Marian f o r her s e n s i b l e r i e s s and c o n t r o l , i n S u r f a c i n g the c h a r a c t e r s p r a i s e or encourage the p r o t a g o n i s t ' s l a c k of f e e l i n g . Anna i s the only one who i s p o t e n t i a l l y r e c e p t i v e , and the p r o t a g o n i s t r e j e c t s her o f f e r t o share f e e l i n g s . Joe i s impressed and r e l i e v e d when she maintains her " c o o l * , (p. 16, 159* 160) But t h i s process of self-numbing by s u b s t i t u t i o n becomes hab-i t u a l , so t h a t when she catches a glimpse of her f a t h e r ' s corpse i n the l a k e , she sees i n s t e a d her dead baby j and when the body i s found she r e a c t s i n s t e a d t o the t h r e a t presented by Anna and David. When she sees an e x t e r n a l symbol of what she does to her own experience anoXemotions, she makes, i n e f f e c t , the same excuse as Marian\f»e$jftx> A i n s l e y ' s observation t h a t she chooses c l o t h e s as camouflage J Underneath the bar i t s e l f i s a c r u d e l y carved wooden f i s h w i t h red and blue dots on i t , intended p o s s i b l y f o r a speckled t r o u t ; on i t s l e a p i n g back i t supports the fake marble surface...and the r e g u l a t i o n p i c t u r e , s c r o l l e d g i l t frame, blown-up photograph of a stream w i t h t r e e s and r a p i d s and a man f i s h i n g . I t ' s an im-i t a t i o n of other p l a c e s , more southern ones, which are themselves i m i t a t i o n s , the o r i g i n a l someone's d i s t o r t -ed memory of a nineteenth century E n g l i s h gentleman's sh o o t i n g lodge, the k i n d w i t h f u r n i t u r e made from deer a n t l e r s . . . B u t i f t h i s succeeds why shouldn't they do i t ? (p.28) L a t e r , c l o s e to the end of the n o v e l , she sees Anna as ...a seamed and f o l d e d i m i t a t i o n o f a woman who i s a l s o an i m i t a t i o n , the o r i g i n a l nowhere, h a i r l e s s l o b e d a n g e l i n the same heaven where God i s a c i r c l e , c a p t i v e p r i n c e s s i n somebody's head. She i s l o c k e d in..(p.165) Women who are i n the c o n t r o l o f men l i k e David, who w i l l p u n i s h Anne one way or another i f he sees her ag e i n g human f a c e f r e e of makeup, have become u n r e a l , h a l f dead, t h e i r s o u l s t r a p p e d i n g o l d compacts. When the p r o t a g o n i s t b e g i n s t o l e a r n 'how to a c t * , one o f those a c t s i s t o t u r n the m i r r o r i n the c a b i n t o the w a l l . As the n o v e l u n f o l d s , the p r o t a g o n i s t becomes more and more aware t h a t by s u b s t i t u t i n g i n v e n t e d p a i n s - f o r r e a l ones she has i n f a c t almost d e s t r o y e d h er c a p a c i t y t o remember a c c u r a t e l y , t o exper-i e n c e d i r e c t l y , t o dream, t o f e e l , t o l o v e . She e n v i e s Joe h i s a b i l i t y t o dream - even nightmares are b e t t e r than no dreams.(p.ky) She f i n d s i t d i f f i c u l t t o be away from d i s t a c t i o n s * "I don't want t o s t a y here, I want t o go back where there Is e l e c t r i c i t y and d i s t r a c t i o n , I'm used t o i t now, f i l l i n g the time w i t h o u t i t i s an e f f o r t . " (p.51) Moreover, i t i s hard for, : h e r t o a s s e r t h e r s e l f , a f f i r m h er own d e s i r e s 1 when the men decide t o s t a y a t the c a b i n , w i t h o u t c o n s u l t i n g her, she g i v e s i n without an argument, a g a i n s t h e r own s t r o n g i n c l i n a t i o n and with no good reason t o submit. When David g i v e s h er a 'triumphant and a p p r a i s i n g * l o o k he i s re s p o n d i n g t o someone who has behaved l i k e a v i c t i m . But the i s o l a t i o n o f the i s l a n d , the i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n and c l a r i f -i c a t i o n o f the p o l i t i c s of r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the mounting evidence o f damage done to l i f e and nature by mechanization and American-i z a t i o n , and the p r e s s u r e of her p a r e n t s ' deaths - a l l make i t more and more d i f f i c u l t f o r the p r o t a g o n i s t t o a v o i d c o n f r o n t i n g h e r s e l f as w e l l as the o t h e r s . Gaps b e g i n t o open i n h e r ' w a l l o f l o g i c * , h er defenses a g a i n s t p a i n : I have t o be more c a r e f u l about my memories, I have t o be sure t h e y ' r e my own and not the memories of o t h e r people t e M i n g me what I f e l t , how I a c t e d , what I s a i d : i f the events a re wrong the f e e l i n g s I remamber about them w i l l be wrong, too* I ' l l s t a r t i n v e n t i n g them and there w i l l be no way of c o r r e c t -i n g i t , the ones who c o u l d h e l p me are gone. I run q u i c k l y over my v e r s i o n o f i t , my l i f e , c h e c k i n g i t l i k e an a l i b i ; i t f i t s , i t ' s a l l t h e r e t i l l t h e time I l e f t . Then s t a t i c , l i k e a jumped t r a c k , f o r a mom-en t I've l o s t i t , wiped cleans my exa c t age even, I shu t my eyes, what i s i t ? . . . I r e f u s e t o p a n i c , I f o r c e my eyes open...(p.73) She becomes i n c r e a s i n g l y aware o f the e x t e n t t o which she and the people w i t h h e r are mechanical, s h u t o f f from t h e i r b o d i e s and emotions, shut o f f from l i f e . (p.76) "Canned l a u g h t e r , they c a r r y i t w i t h them, the midget r e e l s of tape and the On s w i t c h con-c e a l e d somewhere i n t h e i r c h e s t s , i n s t a n t p l a y b a c k . " (p.77) I d i d n ' t f e e l awful; I r e a l i z e d I d i d n ' t f e e l much of an y t h i n g , I hadn't f o r a l o n g time...At some p o i n t my neck must have c l o s e d over, pond f r e e z i n g o r a wound, s h u t t i n g me i n t o my head; s i n c e then e v e r y t h i n g had been g l a n c i n g o f f me...(p.106) As awareness o f h e r s e l f r i s e s , h e r defenses f a l l * f i n a l l y , she d i v e s t s h e r s e l f o f a l l of them, and the v i s i o n s t h a t come r e s -t o r e h e r a b i l i t y t o a c t , t o f e e l ( g r i e f , f e a r , f i n a l l y l o v e ) , t o dream and remember, u n t i l f i n a l l y - "Th T h i s above a l l , t o r e f u s e t o be a v i c t i m . U n l e s s I do t h a t I can do n o t h i n g . I have t o r e c a n t , g i v e up the o l d b e l i e f t h a t I am powerless and because o f i t n o t h i n g I can do w i l l e v e r h u r t anyone, (p.191) When Claude and Joe a r r i v e she moves behind the t r e e s , "not r u n n i n g away b u t c a u t i o u s " (p.192) P l i g h t - from o t h e r s o r 66.. from her own experience and f e e l i n g s - i a no longer p o s s i b l e . By ceasing to deny the l o s t part of herself, the part which she d e l i b e r a t e l y numbed i n order not to f e e l pain, the only part that could l i v e , she has regained the power of f e e l i n g and love. S u r v i v a l A f t e r The E d i b l e Woman, S u r f a c i n g , and the poe t r y , i n a l l of which the p o l i t i c s o f r e l a t i o n s h i p s between men and woman are n o t merely e x p l o r e d but c o o l l y d i s s e c t e d i n such a way t h a t o p p r e s s o r - v i c t i m p s y c h o l o g y and behaviour p a t t e r n s are r e v e a l e d , s t r i p p e d of romantic i l l u s i o n , S u r v i v a l r a i s e s c e r t a i n q u e s t i o n s , f o r i t f o c u s s e s on the v i c t i m o b s e s s i o n i n the Canadian psyche, as i t i s r e v e a l e d i n Can-a d i a n l i t e r a t u r e , b u t w i t h r e l a t i v e l y s c a n t emphasis upon the sex-s t e r e o t y p e d v i c t i m c o n d i t i o n and psychology of Canadian women which i s so dominant a theme i n the n o v e l s . At the c o n c l u s i o n of the i n t r o d u c t o r y s e c t i o n , "What, Why and Where i s Here?" Atwood a r t i c u l a t e s some of her reasons f o r w r i t i n g Sur- v i v a l : What a l o s t person needs i s a map of the t e r r i t o r y , w i t h h i s own p o s i t i o n marked on i t so he can see where he i s i n r e l a t i o n to e v e r y t h i n g e l s e . L i t e r a t u r e i s not o n l y a m i r r o r ; i t i s a l s o a map, a geography o f the mind. Our l i t e r a t u r e i s one such map, i f we can l e a r n t o read i t as our l i t e r a t u r e , as the product of who and where we have been. We need such a map d e s p e r a t e l y , we need to know about here, because here i s where we l i v e . F o r the members of a co u n t r y o r a c u l t u r e , shared knowledge of t h e i r p l a c e , t h e i r here, i s n o t a l u x u r y but a n e c e s s i t y . Without t h a t kraow&edge we w i l l not s u r v i v e . But h a l f of the people i n Canada are women, and, as the a n a l y s e s and demands of the Women's Movement c l e a r l y show, women are l o s t , oppressed and v i c t i m i z e d i n ways unique t o women (though t h e r e are s i m i l a r i t i e s between the s t a t u s and psychology of women and those of o t h e r oppressed groups.) In f a c t i t c o u l d be argued t h a t the o p p r e s s i o n of Canadian women as women has been the prima r y s h a p i n g f a c t o r of our l i v e s , and t h a t our o p p r e s s i o n as Canadian c i t i z e n s i s secondary. In any case, the r e s u l t i s t h a t we have been and are oppressed: t h a t h a l f of the people whose v i c t i m e x p e r i e n c e Atwood d i s c u s s e s i n S u r v i v a l are v i c t i m s n ot o n l y of B r i t i s h and American i m p e r i a l i s m b u t o f male domination as w e l l . Atwood i s not unaware of t h i s : P o s i t i o n Two: To acknowledge the f a c t t h a t you are a v i c t i m , but to e x p l a i n t h i s as an a c t of Fate, the w i l l o f God, the d i c t a t e s of B i o l o g y ( i n the case of women', f o r i n s t a n c e ) the n e c e s s i t y decreed by H i s t o r y , o r Economics, o r the unconscious, o r any ot h e r l a r g e gen-e r a l p o werful i d e a . (p.37) J u s t as Canadian c u l t u r e has been dominated by B r i t i s h and Amer-i c a n c u l t u r e , so human c u l t u r e of most i f n o t a l l n a t i o n s has been dominated by the v i s i o n and v o i c e of men. Atwood r e f e r s t o one a s p e c t o f t h i s s i t u a t i o n i n h e r mention o f A l i c e Munro's L i v e s of G i r l s and Women: The p r o t a g o n i s t , D e l Jordan, has s e c r e t ambitions as a w r i t e r . . . t h e c u l t u r e i s bent on s t u n t i n g o r d e s t r o y i n g them, and the s i t u a t i o n i s compounded by the f a c t t h a t the p o t e n t i a l w r i t e r i s a woman, (p. (p.93) Such d i r e c t r e f e r e n c e s t o the s i t u a t i o n of the female h a l f of the Canadian p o p u l a t i o n do not occur as f r e q u e n t l y as do examples of the s u b t l e a t t i t u d e t h a t a l l o w s t h a t s i t u a t i o n t o e x i s t : "I don't t a l k much about my work i n t h i s book because-I happen t o b e l i e v e t h a t an author i s perhaps h i s own t r i c k i e s t c r i t i c . " (p.14) A l l through S u r v i v a l the masculine pronoun i s used t o r e f e r t o the w r i t e r , the a r t i s t , the c r i t i c , the r e a d e r o r the s t u d e n t , j u s t as "man" and "mankind" are used t o r e f e r t o humanity i n g e n e r a l . There i s one paragraph i n which the s u b t l e hidden mes-sage i n t h i s usage - t h a t Man i s indeed p r i m a r i l y male, and woman some k i n d o f p e r i p h e r a l c r e a t u r e who does not r e a l l y q u a l i f y f o r f u l l membership i n the human race - i s made e x p l i c i t : V9. As George Grant p o i n t s out i n the quotation at the beginning of t h i s chapter, a t t i t u d e s toward Nature i m e v i t a b l y i n v o l v e man's a t t i t u d e toward h i s own body and toward s e x u a l i t y , i n s o f a r as these too are seen as pa r t of Nature, I t doesn't take too much thought t o deduce what 'Nature i s dead' and •Nature i s h o s t i l e ' are going to do to a man's a t t i t u d e t o -wards h i s own body and towards women, (p.63) I t i s p u z z l i n g to read, i n a book e n t i t l e d S u r v i v a l w r i t t e n by a woman who i s a l s o an a r t i s t , paragraph a f t e r paragraph i n which the h y p o t h e t i c a l Canadian a r t i s t i s always a man.(Chapter Nine, •The P a r a l y z e d A r t i s t ' ) , Only once i s the a r t i s t a woman* "Let us suppose t h a t a man or woman appears on the face of-vthe e a r t h who f o r reasons unknown decides t o become a s e r i o u s a r t i s t , " ( P . 1 8 1 ) But she disappears* "Let us f u r t h e r suppose t h a t the a r t i s t . . . sees h i m s e l f as a man w i t h a v i s i o n communicable i n words or images which he wishes to make a c c e s s i b l e t o o t h e r s , " (p.181) G r a d u a l l y , a f t e r a s u f f i c i e n t number of sentences c o n t a i n i n g t h i s message, even the a l e r t reader who c o n s c i o u s l y o b j e c t s t o and i s on guard a g a i n s t t h i s h a b i t f i n d s h e r s e l f t h i n k i n g of the a r t i s t as male. I t i s j u s t by such s u b t l e , o s t e n s i b l y innocuous, end-l e s s l y repeated messages as t h i s t h a t the oppression of women has been frSfJMASSfzed by s o c i e t y and i n t e r n a l i z e d by women.iln t h i s i n s t a n c e the hidden message i s t h a t an a c t i v e , p r o d u c t i v e , c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l i s most l i k e l y t o be a man. I t i s not unreasonable t o expect t h a t Atwood, as a w r i t e r who i s a l s o a woman, and a woman aware of sex d i s c r i m i n a t i o n a t t h a t , would be s e n s i t i v e t o the meanings of words and t o how those meanings a f f e c t people's a t t i t u d e s towards the world and other people and themselves. I t would have been i n t e r e s t i n g had she used she/he, h e r s / h i s e t c , but the most i l l u m i n a t i n g technique would have been the c o n s i s t e n t use of the feminine pronoun, not "70. ?: a s r e v e r s e sexism but as a s e r i e s o f s m a l l j o l t s d e s i g n e d t o n o t i f y the r e a d e r t h a t h i s / h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s were based on the w i d e l y ac-cepted but o f f e n s i v e assumption t h a t words l i k e Mankind and Man i n -c l u d e , on equal terms, Woman. In Chapter Ten of S u r v i v a l , Atwood examines images o f women i n Can-adi a n l i t e r a t u r e . What makes t h i s c h a p t e r s t r a n g e , coming from the pen of a woman aware o f sex d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , i s the al m o s t - u n q u e s t i o n -i n g acceptance o f Robert Graves' t h r e e m y t h o l o g i c a l c a t e g o r i e s o f Woman, which, taken t o g e t h e r , "consti-fcu&e the T r i p l e Goddess, who i s the Muse, the i n s p i r e r o f poetry? she i s a l s o Nature, a goddess o f c y c l e s and seasons." (p.199) The thr e e c a t e g o r i e s , as Graves de-f i n e s them, are "the e l u s i v e D i a n a o r Maiden f i g u r e d the young g i r l j next the Venus f i g u r e , goddess o f l o v e , sex, and f e r t i l i t y ? then the Hecate f i g u r e , c a l l e d by Graves the Crone, goddess of the underworld, who p r e s i d e s over death and has o r a c u l a r power*" (p.199) Atwood*s comment on these s t e r e o t y p e s i s t h i s : Simone de B e a v o i r and oth e r s a f t e r her have o b j e c t e d t o the tendency i n l i t e r a t u r e t o make Woman-Nature metaphors o r eq u a t i o n s . T h e i r o b j e c t i o n s are based on the kin d s o f l i m -i t i n g mystiques about women such metaphors f o s t e r , and are no doubt l e g i t i m a t e w i t h i n c e r t a i n b o u n d a r i e s ! but these are the k i n d s of p a t t e r n s l i t e r a t u r e makes - l i t e r a t u r e c r e a t e d by women as w e l l as men - and i n l i t e r a t u r e i t s e l f they cannot be avoid e d . L e t us suppose then Woman i s Nature, o r Nature i s a woman, (p.200) T h i s i s the o n l y r e f e r e n c e t o any comprehensive f e m i n i s t a n a l y s i s , which i s v e r y s t r a n g e i n a book t h a t e x p l o r e s the V i c t i m theme and which was w r i t t e n by a woman whose f i r s t n o v e l was m i s t a k e n l y assumed t o be a product o f the Women's Movement. I t i s u n s e t t l i n g t h a t Atwood should add, " l i t e r a t u r e c r e a t e d by women as w e l l as men", as i f the f a c t t h a t women have a c q u i e s c e d t o t h e i r o p p r e s s i o n 71. c o u l d p o s s i b l y l e g i t i m i z e t h a t o p p r e s s i o n . Graves* t h r e e c a t e g o r i e s and the T r i p l e Goddess which they u n i t e t o form are not i n themselves b l a t a n t l y d i s c r i m i n a t o r y j the fem-i n i s t o b j e c t i o n t o them would be based on what they exclude, f o r they c a t e g o r i z e and s t e r e o t y p e women a c c o r d i n g t o s e x u a l c h a r a c t -e r i s t i c s . T h i s tendency t o d e s c r i b e and d e f i n e women p r i m a r i l y a c c o r d i n g t o s e x u a l f u n c t i o n s has always had widespread and, f o r women, s i n i s t e r r e p e r c u s s i o n s i n s o c i e t y , and i s r i g h t l y one o f the a t t i t u d e s which Women's L i b e r a t i o n s t r u g g l e s t o change. Sex-u a l i t y i s o n l y one a s p e c t o f a human b e i n g , and when i t i s used t o l i m i t an i n d i v i d u a l t o a d e s t i n y chosen by e x t e r n a l agents and en f o r c e d upon t h a t i n d i v i d u a l w ithout h e r / h i s consent, o r, i n many ca s e s , knowledge, then i t has become a weapon used a g a i n s t the i n d i v i d u a l . "I remember wondering, a f t e r f i r s t r e a d i n g Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, why most of the s t r o n g and v i v i d l y - p o r t r a y e d female c h a r a c t e r s i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e are o l d women." (p.14) In s u g g e s t i n g reasons f o r t h i s , Atwood makes l i t t l e mention of the f a c t t h a t , i n g e n e r a l , w r i t e r s ( b e i n g mostly male) have r a r e l y come up with " s t r o n g and v i v i d l y p o r t r a y e d female c h a r -a c t e r s " a t a l l , which i s n o t s u r p r i s i n g i f one ac c e p t s the prop-o s i t i o n t h a t most f i c t i o n a l female c h a r a c t e r s have been s t e r e o -typed creatures--viewed through p r e j u d i c e d eyes. And, s i n c e most male w r i t e r s have tended t o be s i d e t r a c k e d by and, p r e o c c u p i e d with the s e x u a l f a c e t s o f t h e i r female c h a r a c t e r s , a re a s o n a b l e ex-p l a n a t i o n f o r the preponderance o f Hecates i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e would be t h a t o n l y when a woman i s o l d can she be seen as somewhat human, because, s i n c e our s o c i e t y d e n i e s the s e x u a l i t y o f o l d e r p e o p l e , e s p e c i a l l y o f o l d e r women, i t i s o n l y then, t h a t i t ceases to be a d i s t r a c t i o n . T h i s would a p p l y n ot on l y t o male w r i t e r s but a l s o t o female w r i t e r s , s i n c e women who have e n t e r e d t r a d -i t i o n a l l y male t e r r i t o r i e s such as l i t e r a t u r e have tended t o be m a l e - i d e n t i f i e d and ma l e - o r i e n t e d , w i t h the r e s u l t t h a t t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n s have resembled those o f men i n s t e a d o f e x p l o r i n g and a f f i r m i n g those o f women, (There have, of course,, been e x c e p t i o n s t o t h i s i Simone de Be a v o i r and D o r i s L e s s i n g are examples, and i n Canada A l i c e Munro, Jane Rule, Constance Beresford-Howe, Atwood and o t h e r s are b r e a k i n g away from t r a d i t i o n a l m a le-defined ways o f e x p e r i e n c i n g and d e s c r i b i n g the world.) Atwood observes t h a t Hecates "are o f t e n seen as malevo l e n t , s i n -i s t e r o r l i f e - d e n y i n g , e i t h e r by themselves o r by o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s i n t h e i r books." (p.199) She goes on to e x p l a i n t h i s by examining the Woman-as-Nature* Nature-as-Monster metaphors, but i t i s a l s o r e l e v a n t t o c o n s i d e r the h a t r e d and contempt wi t h which p a t r i a r -c h a l s o c i e t y t r e a t s women (and which women a l s o f e e l , towards o t h e r women, h a v i n g accepted and i n t e r n a l i z e d the Thou S h a l t Be I n f e r i o r commandment). T h i s i s c e r t a i n l y r e l e v a n t to the h i g h i n c i d e n c e o f d e s t r u c t i v e o l d women i n Canadian f i c t i o n , not,, o n l y because women i n g e n e r a l are t r e a t e d with contempt i n t h i s , s o c i e t y b u t a l s o because o l d e r women, who have l o s t one s e x u a l f u n c t i o n ( r e -p r o d u c t i v e a b i l i t y ) ; a n d are presumed t o have l o s t a nother (the d e s i r e and c a p a c i t y ; f o r s e x u a l i n t e r c o u r s e ) are even more scorned and i g n o r e d than young women (who are a t l e a s t s e x u a l l y e x p l o i t -a b l e ) . ,v : ; 73. Atwood goes on t o say, "Diana-Maidens o f t e n d i e young. There i s a n o t a b l e absence o f Venuses...What can account f o r t h i s ? " (p.199) In her r e p l y she touches upon the b r u t a l repression,.of female sex-u a l i t y which has been so obvious a p a r t of the o p p r e s s i o n o f women g e n e r a l l y . I t ' s n o t unreasonable t o suggest t h a t Diana-Maidens d i e young because t h e i r ' s o c i e t y p r e f e r s them v i r g i n a l l y dead t o sex-u a l l y a l i v e , mature and a c t i v e } a f t e r a l l , d e s p i t e . t h e s o - c a l l e d s e x u a l r e v o l u t i o n and a g e n e r a l l o o s e n i n g o f i n h i b i t i o n s i n North American l i f e , sex i s s t i l l s u spect, e s p e c i a l l y f o r women. Nip 'em i n the bud, so t o speak. And, s i n c e the Diana-Maidens r a r a l y g e t to grow up, i t ' s n o t s u r p r i s i n g t h a t t h e r e ' s a d e a r t h o f Venuses. Venus t r a d i t i o n a l l y p r o v i d e s two t h i n g s , s e x u a l l o v e and b a b i e s . There i s a strange tendency i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e t o s p l i t these f u n c t i o n s a p a r t , t o have the s e x u a l l o v e department p r e s i d e d over by whores, o r by easy and t h e r e -f o r e d e s p i s e d women, and to r e s e r v e the b a b i e s f o r D i a n a f i g u r e s , n o n e n t i t i e s o r even Hecates. T h i s tendency i s j u s t as e v i d e n t , i f n ot more so, i n the l i t e r a t u r e o f French Canada as i n t h a t o f the r e s t of the coun t r y . . . J e a n l e Moyne notes t h i s p a t t e r n i n h i s essay 'Women and French-Canadian l i t e r a t u r e ' and connects the dead young b e l o v e d s and u n a t t r a c t i v e 'mature* women with the taboos s e t up by i d e n t i f y i n g *wife* always as 'mother', (p.2-6) I t i s l i k e l y t h a t the reason r e f e r r e d t o here - "Something t h a t l o o k s l i k e a r e a l Venus f i g u r e makes an appearance i n C a l l a g h a n ' s The Loved and the L o s t - though even here, n e i t h e r a u t h o r n o r c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r can de c i d e whether o r not she's r e a l l y a V i r g i n Mary - b u t her s o c i e t y c a n ' t t o l e r a t e h er and she's murdered." (p.206) - i s the r e a l r e ason. Canadian s o c i e t y c a n ' t t o l e r a t e Vanuses} the p e n a l t i e s f o r such t e n d e n c i e s are severe enough t o d i s c o u r a g e them from -;J&^Xng- -,: a n appearance. Another q u e s t i o n r a i s e d i s : "Are there any r e a l qomen? Or r a t h e r , are t h e r e any women i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e who appear t o be l e a d i n g normal married l i v e s , h a v i n g c h i l d r e n who are not dead, o r G o t h i c - 74. morons...or so numerous they don't matter?" (p.209) The assumption th a t r e a l woman equals wife and mother, t h a t normal l i f e f o r a wom-an n e c e s s a r i l y i n c l u d e s marriage and c h i l d r e n , i s no longer a safe one. Dr. P h y l l i s Chesler i n Women and Madness and Dr. J e s s i e Ber-nard i n The Future of Marriage present c o n s i d e r a b l e evidence t h a t married women wit h c h i l d r e n i n Americantsociety-are more l i k e l y to be u n r e a l , i n the sense of being n e u r o t i c , than not, and i n t h i s regard there i s no evidence t h a t Canadian s o c i e t y i s any d i f f e r e n t . Atwood touches on the widespread c h r o n i c d e s p a i r of housewives when she says, r e f e r r i n g to the two women who do lead such 'normal' l i v e s , "But n e i t h e r seems to be enj o y i n g l i f e much, t h e i r c h i l d r e n are a d r a i n or a worry, t h e i r husbands are h o s t i l e , uncommunicative, or not t h e r e . " (p.209) Atwood i s s i l e n t o n t h e s u b j e c t of the c o l l e c t i v e v i c t i m experience and psychology of women i n her d i s c u s s i o n s of f i c t i o n a l female char-a c t e r s who s u f f e r from the e f f e c t s of sexism i n t h e i r s o c i e t y , us-u s a l l y unbeknownst t o them and t h e i r c r e a t o r s . In her d e s c r i p t i o n of the f r e a k - c o l l e c t o r i n Five Legs (p.81) of the masochist i n A Stranger and A f r a i d , (p.158) and i n the chapter on In d i a n s , no emphasis i s placed on the pressures i n s o c i e t y which r e s u l t i n d i s -t o r t i o n s of women's humanity. S i m i l a r l y , i n Chapter 11: ...the m a r i t a l choices open t o Maria are s i g n i f i c a n t . Each of the men r e p r e s e n t s a way of l i f e j one o f f e r s escape to the United S t a t e s : one a r e p e t i t i o n of the . s t a t i c farm l i f e - hard work and c h i l d - b e a r i n g - t h a t has exhausted Maria's mother; the t h i r d might have combined dynamic growth w i t h c o n t i n u i t y of c u l t u r a l v a l u e s , but Nature the Monster k i l l s him i n the f o r e s t . Maria f i n a l l y chooses to remain, marry the second, and become an i n c a r n a t i o n of her mother; and a chorus of e a r t h - s p i r i t * a n c e s t r a l and heavenly v o i c e s backs her up. The bleak and confined l i f e i n s i d e the w a l l i s pre-f e r a b l e to the t h r e a t e n i n g emptiness t h a t l i e s o u t s i d e i t . (p.218) Atwood discusses Maria's entrapment in the context of French-Canadian cultures but Maria's entrapment as a French-Canadian i s compounded by her entrapment as a woman, f o r whom l i f e - a l -t ernatives are l i m i t e d to marital p o s s i b i l i t i e s , which, though representative of d i f f e r e n t l i f e - s t y l e s , nevertheless amount to no choice at a l l , since marriage i t s e l f i s implied by each and the role of women i n t r a d i t i o n a l marriage i s r i g i d l y de-f i n e d . The same double oppression i s apparent i n the s i t u a t i o n s of Indian women i n even more extreme form. Later i n the same chapter, Atwood touches upon a recurrent theme i n Quebec l i t e r a t u r e * An almost standard Quebec v i s i o n of death i s the v i s i o n of the dead baby (or dead babies)* i t ' s a fantasy oftern indulged i n by mothers or grandmothers, and i t ' s hard to t e l l whether they are t o r t u r i n g themselves with i t or enjoying i t , or both. (p.2 2 3 ) Atwood int e r p r e t s the v i s i o n as springing from the French-Cana-dian psyche* This obsession with death i s not very cheering, but neither i s i t p r e c i s e l y morbid} i t i s simply an image that r e f l e c t s a state of soul. What i t says i s that the Quebec s i t u a t i o n (or the Canadian s i t u a t i o n ) i s dead or death-dealing, and therefore genuine knowledge of i t must be knowledge of death. I t i s also an image of ultimate s t e r i l i t y and powerlessness, the f i n a l r e s u l t of being a victim.(p.224) A l l the examples of the v i s i o n that Atwood c i t e s are taken from books written by women,1 which seems as relevant as the f a c t that they are found i n French-Canadaian l i t e r a t u r e . I t seems not un-l i k e l y that a woman condemned by church fathers and a male Pope to spend most of her adult l i f e in pregnancy, post-parturn de-pression, or slavery to the endless, thankless, unpaid, monoton-ous round of mundane tasks which l i f e with c h i l d r e n necessitates, would indugge i n fantasies of dead children, thereby f u r t h e r v i c t i m i z i n g h e r s e l f through self-imposed g u i l t , an appropriate emotional state f o r victims. But the g u i l t in t h i s case would be an a f t e r - e f f e c t , or, to adopt Atwood's tone, a fringe b e n e f i t , f o r the fantasy i t s e l f would probably be motivated by a feeble and misdirect-ed desire f o r freedom. This i s a savage indictment of a system which robs what i s p o t e n t i a l l y one of the most profound and tender love r e -latio n s h i p s between human beings of i t s joy and transforms i t instead i n t o a parasite-host r e l a t i o n s h i p . The conclusions of The Edible Woman and Surfacing provide a clue to the question! Why, i n a c r i t i c a l book about the s u r v i v a l of the Can-adian i d e n t i t y , i s the issue of women's v i c t i m i z a t i o n not dealt with more f u l l y and d i r e c t l y , e s p e c i a l l y when t h i s issue i s so strong a theme in the novels and poetry? At the end of The Edible Woman, Marian i s no clo s e r than at the be-ginning to an awareness that her rela t i o n s h i p s with women lack t r u s t , warmth, depth, and love; she does not r e a l i z e that t h i s lack weakens and impoverishes her. Nor i s she conscious that her attitude toward women includes contempt, revulsion and suspicion, and that t h i s weak-ens and impoverishes her even more since she i s hers e l f a woman. The same i s true of the end of Surfacing, although there the protagonist her moved s l i g h t l y forward toward such an understanding; both her re-l a t i o n s h i p with her mother and her destruction of Random Samples i n a symbolic attempt to l i b e r a t e Anna indicate that she i s approaching a sense of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with women. But i t i s l i k e l y that i t i s just t h i s lack of a sense of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with women that prevents Atwood from emphasizing the connections between s e x i s t patterns i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e and the se x i s t system from which that l i t e r a t u r e springs. 7 7 . A Selected Bibliography Primary Sources Books by Margaret Atwood The Circle Game. Toronto: House of Anansi P r e s s Ltd., 1966. The Animals in That Country.TorontoOxford University P r e s s , 1968. The Edible Woman. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969. The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1970. Power P o l i t i c s . Toronto: House of Anansi Press Ltd.,1971. Surfacing. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 197 2. Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature: Toronto: House of Anansi Press Ltd., 1972. Secondary Sources Andersen, Margret, comp. Mother was not a person. Montreal: Content Publishing Limited and Black Rose Books, 1972. Babb, Howard S. Essays in Stylistic?-Anaiysis. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Bernard, Jessie. The Future of Marriage. New York: Bantam Books,Inc. 1972. Canadian Women's Educational Press. Women Unitel Toronto: Heritage Press, 1972. Bird, Caroline. Born Female. Richmond K i l l , Ontario: Simon & Schuster of Canada, Ltd., 1971 Chatman, Seymour,and Levin, Samuel, eds. Essays on the Language of Literature. Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1967. 78. C h e s l e r , P h y l l i s . Women and Madness. New York: Doubleday.& Co., Inc., 1972. Ellmann, Mary. T h i n k i n g About Women. New York: Harcourt Brace Jov-a n o v i c h , Inc., 1968. F i r e s t o n e , Shulamith. The D i a l e c t i c of Sex: The Case f o r F e m i n i s t  R e v o l u t i o n . New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1972. F i s h , S t a n l e y E. Self-Consuming A r t i f a c t s . B e r k e l e y , Univ. of C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1972. G a s p a r i n i , Len. Review o f The Animals i n That Country. Canadian  Forum, D e c , 19 68, p. 212. Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. New York:McGraw-Kill, 1971. Gr o s s k u r t h , P h y l l i s . '"Vlct^pzait^rx.-or S u r v i v a l . " Canadian L i t e r - a t u r e , No. 55, Winter 1973, pp. 108-110. G u t t e r i d g e , Don. Review of S u r v i v a l . Canadian Forum, May 1973, pp. 37-41. Ha r c o u r t , Joan. "Atwood Country." QueenVs Q u a r t e r l y , No. 80, Summer 1973, pp.278-81. Hess, Thomas B., and Baker, E l i z a b e t h ; C e d s . A r t and Sexual P o l - i t i c s . New York: C o l l i e r Books, 1973. :Janov, A r t h u r . The P r i m a l Scream: P r i m a l Therapy: The Cure f o r • N e u r o s i s . New York: D e l l P u b l i s h i n g Company., Inc., 1970. Jonas, George. "A Choice of P r e d a t o r s . " Tamarack Rev lev/, No. 54, 1970:, p. 75-76. L a r k i n , Joan. "Soul S u r v i v o r . " Ms., May, 1973, pp. 33-35. Marder, H e r b e r t . Feminism and A r t : A Study of V i r g i n i a Woolf. Chicago: The U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago P r e s s , 1968. M i l l e t t , Kate. Sexual P o l i t i c s . New York: Avon Books and Doubleday and Co. Inc., 1971. M i t c h e l l , J u l i e t . Woman's Estate. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd. 1971. Morgan, Robin, ed. Sisterhood i s Powerful; An Anthology of Writings  from the Women's Lib e r a t i o n Movement. New York: Random House, 1970. Purdy, A.W. "Poet Beseiged." Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 39, Winter 1969, pp. 94-96. Sherfey, Mary Jane. The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality. New York: Random House, 1973. Simonson, Harold P. Strategies i n C r i t i c i s m . New York: Holt, Rine-hart and Winston, Inc., 1971. Showalter, El a i n e , ed. Women's Liberation and L i t e r a t u r e . New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971. Stedmond, John. Review of The Edible Woman. Canadian Forum, Feb, 1970, p^.267. Wolfe, Morris. "Atwood 1s Guide to the Geography of S u r v i v a l . " Saturday Night, January 1973, pp. 32-33. Woolf, V i r g i n i a . A Room of One's Own. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Inc. 1928. Women's Studies: An I n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y Journal, ed. Wendy Martin. Numbers 1,- 2 and 3, 1973. Purdy, A.W. "Atwood's Moodie." Review of The Journals of Susanna  Moodie, by Margaret Atwood. Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , No. 47, Winter, 1971, p. 80-84. 

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