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A Reason To Kill Margaret Atwoods Surfacing is an intensely symbolic novel about an artist whose weekend trip home to search for her missing father turns into a journey of self discovery The main character in the story is also the narrator and is not given a name probably because readers will be able to identify with her as the storys heroine Early in the story she talks about being married divorced and having a child Later it is made known that she was never married but has had an affair with her art professor As a result of the affair she gets pregnant and has to have an abortion Her method of dealing with the pain of having an abortion is to create a false memory to cover it up Her false memory becomes so real that she actually forgets until later in the novel that she really did have an abortion Having the abortion was a horrifying experience for her because she had killed another creature without having a reason for doing so The abortion symbolizes the killing of her own humanity which causes her to feel alienated from everyone around her This feeling of alienation is like being confined in a jar In the novel there are several references to jars bottles and tin cans These items represent methods of containing or imprisoning life I put the worms in a can and some dirt for them They also represent the narrators own emotional life which has been put into jars preventing her from being able to feel The narrator knows that she has feelings but the trauma of having an abortion has caused her to become extremely desensitized It can be deduced that the narrator has always felt trapped in places she did not want to be On page 58 she says that Anna could be her at sixteen sulking on the dock resentful at being away from the
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