This quotation was taken from Margaret Atwood's story, "Homelanding." This story recounts many aspects of human existence from an outside view, as if it was being told to an alien race. This story tells about human appearance, sex (both difference and the act of), sunbathing, sleeping, death, and many other human functions in a scientific way. This story takes a step away from the normal way of describing these objects. For example, Margaret Atwood talks about eating and describes it by saying "I destroy and assimilate certain parts of my surroundings and change them into myself." Most people who have had human contact their whole life consider eating putting food in their mouths, chewing, and swallowing. This quotation at the beginning of the story shows that the author knows that she is writing this for a human audience. She starts this off with the line, "Where should I begin?" This is more of a conversational style that draws the reader into this as if she was talking directly to the reader.
The human reader is supposed to take the role of the alien race. The reader has to take a duality of being both a human and from an alien race who has no knowledge of anything human. The next line restates this with, "After all you have never been there; or if you have you may not have understood the significance of what you say or thought you saw." An alien race would never have been to earth, yet the human reader has spent his whole life on earth if never stopping to think of the significance of what he is seeing. The next line is: "A window is a window, but there is looking out and looking in." This can be seen in all the number of times that someone sees something in someone else that the person does not see in himself. For example, often a teacher is responsible for helping a student develop a talent that was there but the student did not know that he had it. This story is attempting to do the same and show the reader characteristics that mankind has but do not know it has. In the next line, this is reiterated with the statement, "The native you glimpsed, disappearing behind the curtain, or into the bushes, or down the manhole in the mainstreet--my people are shy--may have only been your own reflection in the glass." This shows the reader is the reflection in the glass and is seeing a portrait of himself in the story. Storytelling is often used to teach a lesson to the reader or listener. One of the most read examples of this is the Bible. Jesus often spoke in parables to help teach lessons to his listeners. This story attempts to make us take a step away from ourselves and see ourselves in a different light so we could possibly understand ourselves better.