Analysis of the power politics of canadian literature. Specifically margaret atwood's surfacing

Essay by sleepynuUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 2004

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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...