Margaret Atwood: Cat's Eye- Trace the Development of Elaine's Bullyi

Topics: Abuse, Bullying Pages: 7 (2611 words) Published: January 28, 2001
Trace the development of the bullying. How convincing are the situation and Elaine's feelings are portrayed.

-How it changes and increases

We are first introduced to Cordelia and prepared for the future conflict between the two girls when it is mentioned, "The third girl doesn't wave". This lack of warmth towards Elaine is a premonition of what is to come, and is at the same time believable- new girls are often wary of each other, uncertain of what the other will be like. This key moment also reveals certain character aspects in both Cordelia and Elaine that continue through out the bullying period, for example Cordelia's judgmental attitude "her eyes are measuring" or " Cordelia is looking past me to where my parents are…"

To me, this first meeting seems too rich on detail, too unbelievable because of the amount of detail that the adult Elaine has remembered. I cannot remember so far back as to what another person's eyes looked like even yesterday, perhaps what they said made a deep impact and I would have remembered it, but surely a conversation between two girls when they were eight years old would not have been remembered in such great accuracy so many years afterwards.

Soon after Cordelia's arrival she begins to intimidate Elaine, albeit unintentionally, by leading Elaine to make judgements and comparisons which she had not made before "It occurs to be for the first time that we are not rich." Showing the early signs of pressure and bullying starting to happen. Much of Cordelia's character is also related to the audience at this point, her grownup behaviour is revealed "She has a smile like a grown-ups", "But children don't shake hands like this", "I feel shy with Cordelia", as is her childish nature, "The soft squishy kind, like peanut butter". These extreme swings are shown later when Cordelia appears to be friends with Elaine, while really harassing her. This again is typical of children- that they pick up on the behaviour of their parents is quite natural, especially in Cordelia's circumstances which are related when Elaine visits her with "I ask Cordelia if she is gifted, but she puts her tongue in the corner of her moth and turns away". The main motive to bully Elaine seems to be the neglect that she has to deal with at home- the older siblings who are 'gifted' and her ordinariness and inability to be more like them. It is noteworthy that the child Elaine does not analyse or interpret this, as the adult reader would, this child-like innocence is natural and convincing.

Cordelia does not single Elaine out immediately, instead she tries to control all her 'playmates' but Carol is too wimpish, and Grace too strong, " "I don't want to," says Grace ", but Elaine, unaccustomed to the games of girls does not believe that she is being wronged, and therefore suffers the brunt of the attack. More and more sentences in the book start with "Cordelia says" and 'Cordelia thinks" showing, very realistically, the way that Cordelia is gaining dominance in Elaine's life subconsciously. This distinctive lack of pronouns continues as she becomes more dominant in the group situations, " "Try and see," says Cordelia. 'Go on down there. I dare you." But we don't. " shows her daring as she become a kind of leader for the group "Cordelia goes right to the railing and leans on it. Gingerly we follow." "Cordelia makes short work of this game" is the end to what the group had pre- Cordelia done together- cut out pictures from the Eaton's catalogues. The dominance continues as Cordelia begins to introduce the topic of women and their bodies, her continual fascination shaping the conversation that would otherwise have been deemed improper, yet Cordelia seems to get away with talking about unseemly things, again the boldness showing.

Cordelia continues to dominate games and becomes bolder in her attempts to control and bully while Elaine still believes this is typical girls' conduct. A part of Cordelia's miserable behaviour is...
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