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At The Tourist centre In Boston

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Gabrielle Peterson

on 29 April 2017

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Transcript of At The Tourist centre In Boston

The map mentioned in the beginning is a symbol that sets the scene for the rest of the poem, even if just in foreshadowing. The map is described as “a white relief-/ map with red dots for the cities.” The white color symbolizes the purity of the land, but the red cities represent the horror and corruption that comes with. The tourists are described as “teeth white as detergent,” but this white symbolizes an unnatural, forced purity, as later on the “platoons of tourists/ and plan their odd red massacres.” Again, the red massacres are referring to the cities, and how they destroy the pure, natural environment. The poem also includes chiasmus and reflections from the beginning to the end. It talk about the colors, “purple-browns and odd reds,/ the green of the trees dulled” and “to the peculiarly-/ green forests/ to wait among the brownish mountains/ for the platoons of tourists/ and plan their odd red massacres.”

Meaningful Aspects of the Poem
The speaker is a citizen looking at his country and how other view his country. Images of nature are heavily emphasized, as well as those of modern civilization and technology, thus juxtaposing these two ideas and creating a mood that the speaker is addressing two very different worlds/settings, “Mountains and lakes and more lakes…” vs “the cities, also slush/machines and assorted garbage.” The impression of these two images is that the worlds are very contrasting, however these settings are brought together in certain phrases which reveal that they are actually two different viewpoints on the same setting, “...a flat lake, some convenient rocks…cooking something/in immaculate slacks by a smokeless fire”. These images suggest that the speaker is imagining one view of the scenario, while the other is what other people see. We also get this idea that the speaker is satirizing the evolution of the setting because of the earlier lines “..my country under glass” as if he is observing it as what they say is unfolding before their eyes, into a very unbelievable world by their calling it a “dream”, as if the possibility of this transformation from nature to civilization is completely unreal to them.

Speakers Use of Imagery
Throughout the story, the tone employs shifts - starts prideful and patriotic (“my country”), yet informative (use of descriptive language, particularly to describe the areas referenced) and takes a cynical turn (“arrangements of grinning tourists”, “immaculate slacks by a smokeless fire”) and starts to degrade into despair(“Who really lives there?”). The tone is also built up through use of key words like
“Unsuspecting” - (leads up to the unexpected within the poem, and being one word in its own lines shows its carry more weight than being within another line.)

-“Blown up” - , (evaporate, assertive purity, manufactured, hallucinations, arrangements, mirage)

-“Glass”- (simulates the feeling of looking at something in a museum/observed/limited setting, like there is separation between the speaker and the subject.) Also, begins the piece’s use of sibilance, resulting in it being centrally connected to the main theme of the poem, suggesting that it may even be especially apart of it.

Establishing Tone
In "At the Tourist Centre in Boston," Atwood uses meaningful language and imagery to establish a complex tone that encompasses her use of perspective and shift.
There is my country under glass,
a white relief-
map with red dots for the cities,
reduced to the size of a wall

and beside it 10 blownup snapshots
one for each province,
in purple-browns and odd reds,
the green of the trees dulled;
all blues however
of an assertive purity.

Mountains and lakes and more lakes
(though Quebec is a restaurant and Ontario the empty
interior of the parliament buildings),
with nobody climbing the trails and hauling out
the fish and splashing in the water

but arrangements of grinning tourists-
look here, Saskatchewan
is a flat lake, some convenient rocks
where two children pose with a father
and the mother is cooking something
in immaculate slacks by a smokeless fire,
her teeth white as detergent.

At the Tourist Centre in Boston
By: Margaret Atwood
At The Tourist Centre In Boston
Whose dream is this, I would like to know:
is this a manufactured
hallucination, a cynical fiction, a lure
for export only?

I seem to remember people,
at least in the cities, also slush,
machines and assorted garbage. Perhaps
that was my private mirage
which will just evaporate
when I go back. Or the citizens will be gone,
run off to the peculiarly-
green forests
to wait among the brownish mountains
for the platoons of tourists
and plan their old red massacres.

window lady, I ask you:

Do you see nothing
watching you from under the water

Was the sky ever that blue?

Who really lives there?
By Gabrielle Peterson, Ally Norton, and Nicole Grimes
Full transcript