Victor/Victim Theme In Surfacing Essay

609 words - 2 pages

In Margaret Atwood's novel Surfacing, there is a recurring victor/victim theme between the narrator and her boyfriend Joe. On a quest to find her own self, one of the struggles the narrator faces is her genuine love for Joe. Rather than accepting Joe as a potential husband, I think she treats him like a pet or animal companion.One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel are the secrets and lies the narrator describes about her past and present life. In the beginning, we learn that Joe is her current "stand-in" (23) and she has a child from a previous marriage. Later, we learn that her previous marriage was really an affair as she saw "snapshots of his wife and children, his reasons, his stuffed and mounted family, they had names"¦." (149). She also lies about having a child as she "never identified it as mine" (34) and has no intentions of telling Joe. From these examples, we can identify the narrator as the victor and Joe as the victim in this relationship.Throughout the novel, the narrator links to Joe to animals as everything she values about him "seems to be physical" (57). Even though she describes Joe as "a species once dominant, now threatened with extinction", she also describes Joe as a "buffalo on the U.S. nickel, shaggy and blunt-snouted, with small clenched eyes"¦." (8). This might suggest that Joe is a nice, straightforward guy looking for stability in his life, while having the looks of a buffalo. Other links the narrator ties with Joe is that she sees him as her pet dog. Joe is described to have a "back hairier than most men's, a warm texture, it's like teddy-bear fur"¦" (41), which suggest that he is like a stuffed toy animal. The...

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