Drama at the Farm: A Canadian Survival Story
Canadian Writer Margaret Atwood would argue that every country in the world has a single unifying and informing symbol, to act as a belief system that keeps everyone together and working for common ends. These unifying symbols manifest in the literature produce by authors and literary thinkers; whether or not it is done consciously or subconsciously. According to Atwood, in the United States "Frontier" is the unifying symbol, the exploration of new land, the west and independence from imperial powers. In the United Kingdom the "Island" is a distinct symbol of common national sentiments, the idea of the central island nation controlling its lands and wealth from behind the safety of its metaphorical walls; this symbol is perfectly represented by the medieval castles and fortresses of that nation. With these examples in mind Atwood states that the unifying symbol for Canadian Lifestyle, and consequently literature, is "Survival".
As a result of the Canada's geographical shape, its vast landmass and bitter climate, as well as the nation's origins as subordinate to imperial rule, Survival becomes the common thread which bonds the lives thought and experiences of all Canadians. It is more real to us than the frontier or the island. In her essay, " Survival : A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature", Atwood goes into great detail about this idea of survival and victimization, she outlines her four victim positions with the intention of increasing understanding of Canadian literature, and how these guidelines apply to anyone, Canadian or otherwise. In "The Watcher", by Guy Vanderhaeghe, Atwood's concepts can be used to identify and understand the position of Vanderhaeghe's main character, Charlie Bradley, as well as increase understanding of Vanderhaeghe's work as a piece of distinctly Canadian fictional Literature.
Atwood's four victim...