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Transcript of CAT’S EYE
CATS EYEMargaret Atwood
The AuthorLike Risley, Atwood is the daughter of an entomologist. Known as a feminist writer.Her formative years in 1950s & 1960s in Toronto. Born 18/11/39Among most honoured authors of fiction in recent history.
Margaret AtwoodSpent much of childhood in backwoods of Northern Quebec. Attended school fulltime from 11 years old.High School Leaside, Toronto until 1957Began writing at 6 years old. Decided to be a writer at 16.English Masters from Harvards Radcliffe.
IRON LUNGTime is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. Brother Stephen
You dont look back along time but down through it, like water.Elaine Risley
Winter Saturdays -TorontoCordelia & Elaine in a streetcar conspiratorial agreement on the definition of Time. So? [pg 4 ]
If to meet Cordelia again what would E. tell her? The truth, or whatever would make me look good? [pg 6]
Dying unconsciousIron lung a threatShe is fully conscious, but unable to move or speak. [pg 9]Ignore herHug herShake her? [pg 9]
SILVER PAPERHates Toronto.Malicious, grudging, vindictive, implacable.
In my dreams of this city I am always lost.
2 grown up daughters, Sarah and AnneLives in B.C. as far away from T. as I cld get without drowning.
Husband - Ben, travel agent, Mexico.I am a painter more like a valid job than artist - embarrasses her.[pg 14 & 15]
Jon first husbandStaying with Jon prefers the shedding and disorder and personal dirt of people like myself, people like Jon. Transients and nomads. [pg 17]
We are survivors, of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. [pg 18]
Art Gallery visit incognitoGalleries are frightening places, places of evaluation, of judgment. I have to work up to them. [pg 21]
Poster: Risley in RetrospectDefaced with a moustache.A public face, a face worth defacing.
Peripatetic lifestyle8th birthday in a motelBox Brownie cameraWants silver paper out of cigarette packages.Wants balloonsWants some girlfriends.Never had any girl friends because Ive never been in one place long enough. 
NESTINGNew house out of mud.Dad marks at night.Saturdays at Zoology bldg Dads work.Watch first Santa Parade from there. New dimension to Santa now associated with snakes, pickled eyes, ..
EMPIRE BLOOMERSVancouver suicide capital of the country.Elaine feels she is without worth.What do you have to say for yourself? Cordelia used to ask. Nothing, I would say. Changing room cubicle retrieves wallet. Damn you, Cordelia! .But Cordelia is long gone. [pg 51]
Queen Mary Public SchoolSeparate doors and separate parts of the schoolyard for boys and girls.
Left to girls but with girls I sense that I am always on the verge of some unforeseen, calamitous blunder. [pg 55]
Carol CampbellOnly school bus girl in her grade. A stubby girl with a frequent laugh.Pageboy haircut.C. & sister having matching outfits for Sundays. Big wardrobePiano in forbidden living room.Her parents.
GossipCarol tells all:Family sleeps on the floor.Exotic specialities eating off card table, etc.She wants herself to be marvelled at, for revealing such wonders. Its as if shes reporting on the antics of some primitive tribe: true, but incredible. [pg 57]Gossip: not necessarily cruel, but is used by women to show knowledge
Carols other best friendGrace SmeathPointed out as an object to be admired. A year older, in the next grade up.Play is mostly Graces ideas.She gets her own way in everything.Movie star colouring book. Paper-doll cut-outs.Play school Grace always the teacher.
Playing with the girlsPlaying with girls is different and at first I feel strange as I do it, self-conscious, as if Im only doing an imitation of a girl. But I soon get more used to it. Gender comes across as a construct (Elaine is learning how to be a girl)Graces play and attitude is filled with conventional feminine behaviours that are passive aggressive rather than confrontational:if we try to play anything she doesnt like she says she has a headache and goes homeShe never raises her voice, gets angry, or cries; she is quietly reproachful, as if her headache is our fault
Play is linked to feminine identities of the 40s and 50sDress-upsSchool (most teachers were women; it was one of the only legitimate professions available to them)Materialism of post-war America is reflected in the accumulation of objects  (the war had disrupted earning, some women left the home to work, now they returned to their proper place as happy homemakers)Women seem to be set up as false. The way Ca and G behave implies that society expects women to be modest to the point of making them into liars:- Oh, yours is so good. Mines no good. Mines awful. They say this everytime we play the scrapbook game. Their voices are wheedling and false; I can tell they dont mean it, each one thinks her own lady on her own page is good. But its the thing you have to say, so I begin to say it too 
MaterialismI begin to want things, Ive never wanted before.
Mrs SmeathBad heart has to take pm rests.This weakness is turned into an ad-vantage by Grace and Mrs Smeath (you get your own way): Bad heartshave their uses Views twin sets with contempt.No make-upPrint housedresses.Moustache, smiles but doesnt laugh. JoylessMemory Lying unmoving, like something in a museum Why do I hate her so much? 
MARBLESCats eye clear glass with a bloom of coloured petals in the centre, red or yellow or green or blue;
MarblesPuries flawless like coloured water or sapphires or rubies.
AGGIES like marbles only bigger.
Waterbabies with undersea filaments of colour suspended in them.
Cats EyesElaine examines new ones alone, turning it over and over in the light.The cats eyes really are like eyes, but not the eyes of cats.Theyre the eyes of something that isnt known but exists anyway;My favourite one is blue.I risk my other cats eyes to be shot at, but not this one. It comes to symbolise hope and the part of Elaine that cannot be touched by the bullies. It can also symbolise how others see her.
CORDELIATaller than Grace & CarolWears corduroys & a pullover. Not as overtly feminine as the othet two.Thin without being fragileTop lip a little skewed, as if its been cut open and sewn up crooked. A broken mouth, out of which comes poison.Smile like grown ups learned, doing it out of politeness. An actress with the name of Shakespeares most honest character.Wants to shake hands.
Cordelias gamesShe has the power to belittle or includeDress up costumes.Act out plays C. directs.Feeling of inadequacy at home transforms into a need to control others?Memories connected with blood from Part I red liquorice, penny gumballs, orange popsicles are introduced with Cordelia Foursome walking home. Cordelia points out weeds and Deadly Nightshade. Cordelia points out if you want to poison someone this would be a good way. Infer a mean or morbid mind?knows a lot from older sisters, Perdie & MirandaCordelia is the only sister named after a tragic heroine. Her harsh words contrast with the gentleness of Lears Cordelia.Cordelia is immediately linked with the forbidden ravine dead people story, disappearance of the flower meals.
IV: DEADLY NIGHTSHADEGalleries are too much like churchesPainting of Mrs Smeath done 20 years earlier Rubber plant: The Ascension. Is Elaine mocking Mrs Smeaths sense of martyrdom?Both Mrs Smeath and the plant are distanced from life. One is gazed at from behind glass doors, the other is forbidden to be touched.
InterviewElaine feels uneasy. Is conscious of scrutiny.I should be grateful, these women are on my side...but I still feel outnumbered, as if they are a species of which I am not a memberElaine cant wait for Jons return - from here he looks like relief.Andrea checks out the powder-blue jogging suit. Very uncomfortable with interview.Is she a realist or cynical about her fame? Fame is Elizabeth Taylors cleavage. This stuff is just a media pimple.Elaine resists conventional feminist interpretation, possibly because these women still see her gender before they see her.
9 year olds at playCordelias dug hole: a morbid mind, or just play?Elaine as Mary Queen of Scots headless already. How can this be play?Trapped in hole, soil thrown over topI feel sadness, a sense of betrayal. Then I feel the darkness pressing down on me; the terror.This foreshadows the ravine, and is a turning point in the relationship between the girls as it marks the beginning of Elaines victimisation. She sees it as The point at which I lost power.The fact that she cant remember her ninth birthday party suggests to readers that the months following her premature burial must have been traumatic.
Wrong memoryNightshadeIts a dark word. Nightshade is a common weed. But the flowers, the smell, the movement of the leaves persist, rich, mesmerizing, desolating, infused with grief.Nightshade can symbolise deception, danger, and death.Symbolises Cordelia and the bullying Elaine receives at her hands.
V: WRINGERMaterialism shop windows & disgruntled mannequins. I guess this is the look now: surly aggression. These are echoes of Cordelia.Cordelia with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth, her eyelids half closed, trying for sultry. Ultra sharp.Anti-ageing products a religion. Voodoo and spells. Id use anything if it worked [to]stop the drip drip of time, stay more or less the way I am.Childrens clothing section and tartans recalls the little girls with their assessing eyes, their slippery deceitful smiles, tartaned up like Lady Macbeth.
VOODOOIn the endless time when Cordelia had such power over me, I peeled the skin off my feet.Recalls part III: Cordelia tells the others that the juice of nightshade berries could turn you into a zombie. Cordelias poison has made Elaine into a zombie.Skinned her own feetGnawed her hair and nailsShe physicalises the emotional torment Cordelia puts her through. Also, this is pain she is able to control herself.Elaine compares her own girls they seem sane, her saving graces. They are not the helpless, evasive girls Elaine grew up with.
Santa parade from MuseumSeparate window ledges; Cordelia, Grace and Carol arent talking to Elaine. Ostracisation. When Ive guessed the right answer, then they will speak to me again.How can she guess the right answer when the rules keep changing?Everything will be all right as long as I sit still, say nothing, reveal nothing. I will be saved then, I will be acceptable once more.Instead, she gets this response from Cordelia: How could you?...You know what this means, dont you? Im afraid youll have to be punished.She tries to play by the rules, but there are none.
BULLYINGAt age 9, Elaine scrutinized her daughters fingers for bites, their feet, the ends of their hair.So anxious that they are being harrassed.Once her daughters reached adolescence sighed with relief.Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.
BullyingSometimes takes the form of twisted deportment lessons as they stalk ElaineStand up straight!Dont hunch overDont move your arms like that.The confusion of bullying within friendships - With enemies you can feel hatred, and anger and how victims justify what happens to them: But Cordelia is my friend. She likes me, she wants to help me, they all doIm terrified of losing them. I want to please.