Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

English: Elaine in the Barge
English: Elaine in the Barge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each and every page of this novel, I could not stop marveling at the talent of Atwood’s writing. In the book Cat’s eye, she explores a woman’s life from different intervals, paying extra attention to that of her childhood. The time that we always go back to when we have questions about who we are and what we have become. Atwood is not subtle when it comes to the truth of our experiences. She goes into depths of child hood games, and the  teasing, the cruelty of children, especially girls. Elaine the main character of the novel is in many ways scarred for life in the way that her best friend from elementry school treated her. In some ways that might sound extreme or melodramatic, but it was the foundation on how she saught and formed female relationships for the rest of her life. Cordelia was the friend who always said how she had to “improve” that anything she ever did wasn’t right. Elaine accepted this pain, in her want to be accepted, and in her want to have female friends. The two part ways for awhile, but then do reunite and become friends in high school. At this  point  Elaine; who had better grades and more luck getting dates had the power. Cordelia does not stay in her life in person, but Elaine’s idea of power especially around women was shaped by these experiences. Elaine becomes an artist in her adult life, and so as the reader you also get her retrospective in the purity of how she describes her own art, which is of course her life.  With this narrative going on in her  mind you get to see the vividness, the color, the insecurities, the ideas of what something is and represents, the things that most of us may think about, but never say out loud. Atwood also gives of intricate views of each time period and how they were seen from Elaine’s perspective at different times in her life. I loved this particular excerpt in Elaine’s description of how growing up in the forties molded her painting…

“the colors,” I say.  “Alot of my colors are forties colors.” I’m softening up.  At least she doesn’t say  like and you know all the time. “The war, there are people who remember the war, and people who don’t. There’s a cut off point, there’s a difference.”

….”We have long attention spans,” I say “We eat everything on our plates. We save string. We make due.”

Another Excerpt from Cat’s eye(Awesome example of her vivid descriptive writing!)

“I think about Mrs. Smeath’s bad heart. What exactly is wrong with it? I picture it hidden, underneath her woolen afghan and the billow of her apron bib, pumping in the thick fleshy darkness of the inside of her body: something taboo, intimate. It would be red but with a reddish-black patch on it, like rot in an apple or a bruise. It hurts when I think about it….”(Atwood)


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