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Surfacing 3. Quest or Alienation? Discovery or Madness? Focus: chaps 16-18. Outline. Quest (Searching/Diving/Surfacing) and Alienation ; Power Struggle among David, Anna and Joe The Narrator’s Alienation ; Her Diving Experience – chap 17: the process , the past and her vision

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Surfacing 3

Quest or Alienation?

Discovery or Madness?

Focus: chaps 16-18


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Outline

  • Quest (Searching/Diving/Surfacing) and Alienation;

  • Power Struggle among David, Anna and Joe

  • The Narrator’s Alienation;

  • Her Diving Experience – chap 17: the process, the past and her vision

  • The Narrator’s view of Language and Signs

  • For next time: Part III


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Quest and Search for her Parents

Search—for her father (and also her mother), for the Indian rock painting, and for her selves.

Chap 15 – the searching with the father’s map for the Indian rock fails;

Chap 17 – she goes to the cliff

"It would be right," she says, "for my mother to have left something for me also, a legacy. His was complicated, tangled, but hers would be simple as a hand, it would be final. I was not completed yet; there had to be a gift from each of them" (chap 18: 150).


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Quest and Search for her Parents

Quest for the mother’s simple truth  for nature p. 151

  • Imagines humans as ‘filament plants’

  • Wants to take her mother out of her ‘glass case’

    End of Part II: '. . . nothing has died, everything is alive, everything is waiting to become alive.'


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Diving/Surfacing

Surfacing: --both on the physical and spiritual levels

  • Swimming, diving and then surfacing;

    e.g. End of Part I: Swimming;  chaps 17;

    2) Diving into the subconscious and bringing the repressed guilt to the surface

    e.g. There is "death . . . inside me,“ she layers it "over, a cyst, a tumor, black pearl." (146)

    3) Chap 20 "He[Joe] trembles and then I can feel my lost child surfacing within me, forgiving me" (161-62).


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Against and Complicit with “the Americans/Humans”

  • Chap 15: the 'Americans' turn out to be from Toronto p. 129

  • They "killed the heron anyway. It doesn't matter what country they're from . . . they're still Americans, they're what's in store for us, what we are turning into."


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Against and Complicit with “the Americans/Humans”

  • Chap 15 (2):

  • The protagonist feels "a sickening complicity" in the transgressions of others: "The trouble some people have being German," she says in reference to the Nazi atrocities, "I have being human" (129-30).

  • e.g. Her allowing the animals to be trapped and killed by her brother. “Because of my fear they were killed” (132)


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Against and Complicit with “the Americans/Humans”

  • Chap 18

  • -- not the men she hates, but the Americans, the human beings  the aggressive, possessive and destructive tendencies in humans.

  • wants “there to be a mchine that could make them vanish” . . .

  • Is she too cruel to her fellow human beings? Is she going mad?


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Alienation

  • Ending of Part II (chap 19) -- ‘The voices murmur, they can’t discuss me, they know I’m listening. They’re avoiding me, they find me inappropriate; they think I should be filled with death, I should be in mourning. But nothing has died, everything is alive, everything is waiting to become alive.'


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David, Anna & Joe and the Narrator’s Alienation from them

  • Chap 16 –the 6th day.

  • What happen to Anna and David on this day? How does David look at it? Joe? And the narrator?

  • Chap 18 –the geometrical sex

  • What does this episode tell us more about Anna, David and Joe? How about the narrator and her question of ‘love’?


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Exploitation of Anna in David and Joe’s “Random Samples”

  • Put naked Anna together with ‘the dead bird’ –”your chance for stardom.”

  • David’s and Joe’s 136-137 – one brutal and domineering, and the other uncertain.

  • The narrator’s response – (136) “So we battled in secret, undeclared, and after a while I no longer fought back because I never won. The only defense was flight, invisibility.” p. 138 asks David for herself, but not for Anna.


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Exploitation of Anna in David and Joe’s “Random Samples”

  • David’s explanation (pp. 138-39) – self-justification


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Geometrical Sex Samples”

  • Joe and Anna as losers – comforting each other with sex?

  • David – p. 153

    -- never take ‘no’ for no.

    -- sex separated from love, sexual organs detached from human bodies.

    -- goes to the narrator to get even with Anna. (154)

    -- “Second hand American was spreading over him”


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Further Alienation from the Three Samples”

  • The dinner scene –

  • The narrator observes the continuation of the ‘war’ between David and Anna, both of which know what happened.

  • The two join forces and turn around to attack the narrator.

  • Continued fragmentation of identities in the narrator’s eyes P. 155


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Further Alienation from the Three Samples”

  • Chap 19 “For him truth might still be possible, what will preserve him is the absence of words; but the others are already turning to metal, skins galvanizing, heads congealing to brass knobs, components and intricate wires ripening inside.” (160)

  • What would you do if you were the narrator? Do you think that the narrator is too detached and radical?


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Her Diving Experience – chap 17 Samples”

  • The difficult process of diving –the lake is shown to be layered p. 142  What does it mean?

  • 1) pain; 2) disorientation, 3) saw it.

  • What does the narrator find out when she dives?


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Her Diving Experience – the past Samples”

  • How is her real past remembered?

  • The brutal scene of abortion p. 144; lack of care, forced to do it 145;

  • More flashbacks in chap 18 –his being her first, her idol, her teacher; his wanting to separate their relationship from everything else. (150)

  • Acknowledges her ‘making a faked album.”

  • Regret – “I should have said no but I didn’t; that made me one of them too, a killer.”


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Her Diving Experience – vision Samples”

Mythic vision of nature as a place of truth --

Beginning of this chapter: dead animals as Christ;

  • P. 146 She appreciates natural beings as ‘gods’ who give her what she needs;

  • Rock paintings– the place to learn truth


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The Narrator’s view of Language and Signs Samples”

  • Her mistrust of the words, and alienation from it -- “love” e.g. 30; 107.

    “I couldn’t use it [love] because it wasn’t mine.”

    “The voice wasn’t mine, it came from someone dressed as me, imitating me”

    p. 139 “’she loves you,’ I repeated. . .it was the magic word but it couldn’t work because I had no faith.”


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The Narrator’s view of Language and Signs Samples”

  • David’s wristwatch p. 153 –his dial or switch


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Part III Samples”

  • The narrator stays behind, and becomes “a natural woman.”

  • “a creature neither animal nor human, furless, only a dirty blanket, shoulders huddled over into a crouch, . . . The lips move by themselves.”


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Different Views on Part III Samples”

  • The narrator ‘goes “crazy” deliberately in order to empower herself.” (Annis Pratt)

  • Before the narrator can establish a strong sense of identity, she hits "rock bottom. . . . Fed up with the superficiality of her companions, [she] banishes them and submits to paranoia“(Patricia F. Goldblatt)