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Analysis Of The Power Politics Of Canadian Literature. Specifically Margaret Atwood's Surfacing

1547 words - 6 pages

Margaret Atwood's Surfacing reflects the politics and current issues of the postmodern society. The unnamed narrator of the story returns to the undeveloped land on which she grew up to search for her father. Upon returning to that land, the narrator embarks on a psychological journey. The journey is a process in which she must regain her identity and heritage. Through this journey, the narrator is led back to the natural world where she unmasks the dualities and discrepancies that exist in her personal life.The construction of duality is a central point in the novel. The position of the man represents logic, language and rationality, where as the woman's position represents intuition, irrationality and emotions. The juxtaposition of these two ideals, create conflict for the narrator. As a female, she is in a constant struggle of finding her purpose in a male dominated world. The narrator feels cut off from society and her ability to express emotions; she struggles with comprehending and expressing herself through language, "It was the language again, I couldn't use it because it wasn't mine" (100).The narrator's awareness of the duality developed when she was an adolescent. She has vivid memories of her parents roles, her father being logical and her mother being the institution, "my father explained everything but my mother never did, which actually convinced me that she had the answers but wouldn't tell" (Atwood, 68). Through recurrent references to language and speech the narrator exposes her insecurities towards her femininity and the natural world. When she returns back to nature it becomes increasingly difficult for her to articulate and comprehend language, "Now we're on home ground, foreign territory. My throat constricts, as it learned to do when I discovered people could say words that would go into my ears meaning nothing. To be deaf and dumb would be easier" (Atwood, 5). The narrator has become accustomed to associating language with masculinity. Therefore, the distrust for language represents the narrator's difficulties in comprehending the differences between the feminine and masculine world.Consequently to the narrators struggle, the narrator attempts to re-unite the dualities of the world of femininity and masculinity. An example of such power and destruction emerges through Anna and David's relationship. Through the narrator the reader is given a first hand description of the inequality that co-exists between them. David presents himself as the male dominating figure, where Anna has has become accustomed to control emotions and immune herself from the brutality she endures through David's language.Through David, the hierarchical roles surface and draw attention to the domination that a man holds over woman. David separates himself from emotion, where Anna struggles with distress she suffers from David's abuse. David utilizes his language skills in order to exercise power "None of that women's Lib ...I won't have any of that in...

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