“Death by Landscape” shows subtle, but nonetheless significant, qualities regarding Canadian culture. The author (Margaret Atwood) uses Canadian landscape, Native culture, and character attributes to symbolize the Canadian identity. The struggle between Native Canadians and European Canadians to define what makes somebody Canadian is a major theme in this story. The historically inaccurate depiction of Native practices, as well as the less than flattering depiction of Native people, is an all too real issue which is alluded to in this story. Another major reference to Canadian identity is the depiction of the differences between Americans and Canadians. The characters, Lucy and Lois, symbolize Americans and Canadians. Through the actions and reactions of these characters, the reader comes to realize how the wilderness affects the Canadian mindset as opposed to the American mindset. The final major reference to Canadian culture in this reading is how the wilderness embodies itself in Lois’s mind. The wilderness becomes part of Lois through tragedy. This story expresses the idea that the wilderness is part of every Canadian, if only by the smallest degree.
“Death by Landscape” shows the differences between Native and European culture, the tension that results from these differences, and how these two cultures affect the mindset of Canadians. It is important to note the mockery that Native culture suffers in this story. Although the author uses this mockery to demonstrate the wrongdoings of white Canadians, the affront to Native culture is nonetheless there. This quotation shows a “re-creation” of an Aboriginal ceremony by the Camp Manitou staff and campers:
The simple language and historically inaccurate attire mentioned in this passage display the mockery that Natives have suffered at the hands of Europeans in the past. The reason for this over-exaggerated almost cartoon versions of Natives is simple. European Canadians want to