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Death by Landscape Margaret Atwood

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on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of Death by Landscape Margaret Atwood

Death by Landscape
Margaret Atwood

An older woman who now lives alone remembers her time with a childhood friend. Lois went to a summer camp when she was younger and met her friend Lucy. While on a canoe trip, Lucy disappears. No one ever finds her. Lois spends the rest of her life collecting landscape paintings and believes that through these paintings, Lucy is still with her.
Main Characters
Important Quotations
The story is told from Lois's point of view. She in now an older woman. Her husband (Rob) and children are all gone. She comes from a relatively wealthy family and enjoyed going to a summer camp when she was younger until the loss of her friend.
Lucy is a young girl whose wealthy parents send her to camp every summer. She is adventurous and a free thinker, not caring what others think about her, unlike her friend Lois. She becomes unhappy with her life in Chicago because of problems with her parents. We never know how or why she disappears when the campers go on the canoe trip
The main camp counselor who gives her whole life to making the camp successful. She is particularly concerned when Lucy disappears because she cannot understand what happened and knows it will destroy the camp.
Apartment - Modern Day
The story starts and ends in a modern setting in Lois's apartment which overlooks Lake Ontario in Canada.
Camp Manitou - Post WWII
The flashbacks take place in this camp that is located in the Canadian wilderness. The camp is for young girls. Many of the campers' mothers attended the camp years ago.
Visual Imagery
Example: "They walk up the path, which is dry earth and rocks, big rounded pinky-gray boulders or split-opened ones with jagged edges. Spindly balsam and spruce trees grow to either side, the lake is blue fragments to the left. The sun is right overhead; there are no shadows anywhere. The heat comes up at them as well as down. The forest is dry and crackly." (68) ==> Why does Atwood use visual imagery?
Point of View
Third person omniscient - narrator uses he/she; knows Lois's thoughts ==> What is the effect of a third person narrator?

The mood in the story is mysterious. As the reader, we feel uncomfortable and wonder what is going on/what has happened.
"Despite the fact that there are no people in them or even animals, it's as if there is something, or someone, looking back." (60)
"Was there anything important, anything that would provide some sort of reason or clue to what happened next?" (66)
Told as a flashback.

The story is told in past tense and then when she tells the story about Lucy's disappearance; it becomes present tense. ==> Why would Atwood do this?
Auditory Imagery
"Out on the lake there were two loons, calling to each other in their insane, mournful voices. At the time it did not sound like grief. It was just background." (67) ==> What is the purpose of the auditory imagery?
Literary Elements
Loss of innocence/ Coming of age
"Who knows how many trees there were on the cliff just before Lucy had disappeared. Who counted? Maybe there was one more, afterwards." (73)
"She looked at her watch: it was noon. This is when she heard the shout." (69)
Full transcript