In Alistair MacLeod’s short story, “The Boat”, there are many examples of where human emotions are attached to places and/or objects; known as physicalization. The emotions these things show, also depend on the person they are being viewed by. There are examples of how one space can have two very different emotional attachments. These differences in opinion can cause tension in some relationships and are there with a constant reminder of the contrast between two people.
A good representation of physicalization is the object that is in the title. The boat, is one of the most important possessions to this Nova Scotian family. It provides their livelihood and everything that the mother perceives to be important. For the mother in this story, the boat embodies what it means to be a fishing family. She “was of the sea as were all her people,” which is why all her brothers were fishermen and she wanted to be married to a fisherman (paragraph 15). In her eyes, there was no other way to respectfully earn a living and she believed that people who weren’t from around where she lived did not know what it was like to work hard. For her, the boat was who they were and held all her emotions of hope and accomplishment.
This is different from the emotions that the boat held for the father. He fished for a living, to keep his wife happy, but he was never truly a fisherman. He did not enjoy fishing like the rest of his wife’s family did. His skin was not tough enough as “the salt water irritated his skin as it had for sixty years…and his arms, especially the left, broke out into the oozing saltwater boils”. (paragraph 60) The sun and wind took a toll on his body that the others did not experience. To him, the boat held emotions such as pain, despair and struggle. He would rather be inside, reading and learning, but was instead forced to fish.
The differences in physicalization in this story are also represented in the opinions of the father’s...