Canada: Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
1. Canada is surrounded by the Arctic ocean to the north, the Labrador Sea and Atlantic ocean to the east, the United States to the south, and the Pacific ocean to the west. 2. In Wilderness Tips, Margaret Atwood incorporates various themes in her story. Family plays a big role because the characters are all related; there are three sisters, a brother, and one of the sister’s husbands. The sisters, Pamela, Prue, and Portia, have alliterative names. Atwood writes, “It was the mother (Prue explained) who had been guilty of the daughters’ alliterative names. She was a whimsical woman, though not sadistic; it was simply an age when parents did that—named their children to match, as if they’d come out of an alphabet book” (47). Roland, the brother, did not receive an alliterative name like his sisters. According to Prue, he has always resented this, and this could be one of the reasons why there is some animosity between the siblings. This short story has the characters set deeply in their gender roles. Atwood writes, “The women take it in turns to clear and do the dishes, and it isn’t her turn. Roland’s job is the wood-splitting. There was an attempt once to press George into serve with a tea towel, but he jovially broke three wineglasses, exclaiming over his own clumsiness, and since has been left in peace” (49). Prue is the promiscuous sister who has been having an affair with George, her sister Porcia’s husband. She uses her role as a woman to tempt and woo George every opportunity she gets. The beginning of the story describes one of these situations by saying, “Now she’s strutting the length of the dock, in her improvised halter top and her wide-legged white shorts, her sunglasses with the white plastic frames, her platform sandals” (42). George is guilty of falling victim to Prue’s games. Atwood describes one of their flings by writing, “…George asked her, running his tongue around her navel as she lay in her half-slip on the Chinese carpet in his office, smoking a cigarette and surrounded by sheets of paper that had been knocked off the desk during the initial skirmish” (48). These rendezvous between Prue and George were well-known among the rest of the family, although nobody did anything about it. The setting of this short story takes place in Canada. Although Atwood mentions aspects of urban life in Toronto, the action of the story takes place in a rural area called Wacousta Lodge. Wacousta Lodge is buried in a history of its own, which Atwood touches on by saying that the place is named after a book written in the nineteenth century by a major in the war. The lodge also has roots in the historical Indian life, which especially interested Roland. Atwood writes, “There was a lot about the Indians, about how noble they were, how brave, faithful, clean, reverent, hospitable, and honorable…They attacked only in self-defense, to keep their land from being stolen” (52). Roland admires these qualities that the Indians possessed in the past, and he wishes life was still like that in the present day. Rather, Roland has to experience urban Toronto, which Atwood describes as “acres of treelessness, of new townhouses with little pointed roofs—like tents, like an invasion” (51). The characters in the story all agree that there is a sacredness that goes along with Wacousta Lodge, and they prefer the lifestyle there rather than the urban lifestyle.
Australia: The Fat Man in History by Peter Carey
1. To the north of Australia lies the Timor Sea, with the Coral and Tasmans Seas being to the east. South of Australia is the Great Australian Bight. The Indian Ocean lies to the west. 2. In this story, Peter Carey writes using the theme of “what if.” It isn’t science fiction necessarily, but it involves a kind-of parallel universe that is different because of some change, or a “revolution” as Carey calls it. According to Carey, “…how strange it is that the...
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