Margaret Atwood Attitude

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Surviving the Real World
(Summary of Attitude by Margaret Atwood)
By Rupashri Ashok
BA-VIII/H-01/2014

Deciding on what to tell a graduating class of liberal arts is a difficult thing, and most of Margaret Atwood’s speech, Attitude, is delivered with that as a frame. Atwood addresses Victoria College’s Class of 1983 at their convocation ceremony with a humourous tone, mentioning a lot that they should know or shall soon find out about the world that they are being ‘launched’ into. Her point, though, is about attitude and how it affects one’s perception of the world.
She begins by expressing happiness at being awarded an honorary degree by her alma mater, and reminiscing a bit of the days she spent there. She mentions that she owes it to Victoria
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She says that she had merely contemplated on speaking about the mistakes or omissions of the educational system – but deciding not to doesn’t stop her from giving a few examples. She chooses to not talk about writing because then her target audience is much less (and those who do want to be writers much be discouraged at all costs, because soon, the situation would be such that “everybody writes and nobody reads”).
In this way, Atwood sneakily reaches her point: “When faced with the inevitable, you always have a choice.” There are different ways of perceiving everything. She tells the Class that the world they are being thrown into is “both half empty and half full.” A pessimist can see everything falling apart, beyond rescue and revival, but the optimist can see that we know what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it – the problem is the absence of a will.
Atwood wants the Class to know that the world is not all happiness and sunshine. Yet again, there is a worse side – where the focus is on the next meal rather than a job or a new car, and a better side – where they are now. She concludes her speech by asking them to try changing their attitudes towards reality rather than trying to change reality itself – and see reality change on its

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