The Coming of Age in "The Boat" by Alistair Macleod

Topics: Present, Time, Short story Pages: 3 (1152 words) Published: April 23, 2012
The idea of Coming of age in “The Boat” by Alistair Macleod

The short story “The Boat” by Alistair MacLeod embodies the idea of coming of age.  It is an elegiac narrative dealing with the consequences of decision making.  The story is of a professor at a Midwestern University who chooses to leave his fishing community in order to pursuit knowledge; however he is unhappy and sad about his present life. While the story unfolds the narrator’s past, he is trying to deal with his emotional struggle of rejecting tradition behind and excluding himself from the village he loved. Although he neglected the fishing life, the protagonist was torn between practicing tradition and the outside world. These two concepts of life leave him distressed as he affirms: “I wished that the two things I loved so dearly did not exclude each other in a manner that was so blunt and too clear” (19). After leaving his community, he now mourns over the loss of his father, his estrangement from his mother and the neglect of tradition and natural relationship between the sea and community, he dearly loved. This essay will explore how the narrator, who was once a part of the fishing world and tradition, now  attempts to make sense of his life after having have to choose one between the two things he loved equally. MacLeod frames the story by opening and concluding in the present time, by emphasizing the narrator’s feelings in the present. The protagonist finds himself very lonely after leaving his traditional life behind. He longs for his father and their boat, assert that “No one waits at the base of the stairs and no boat rides restlessly in the waters by the pier” (1).  There I a repetition of the word “No” symbolize the absence of awareness in his life is in a disorderly fashion. Macleod uses the words: “Bitter”, “Grey”, and “Darkened” (1-2) to enforce images of darkness and dullness used to depict the gloomy state and a melancholic tone. The protagonist is uneasy with his present life...
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