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Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood

Cat's Eye
Margaret Atwood

"Why do we remember the past, and not the future?", wonders Stephen W. Hawking  in "A Brief History of Time". This seems to be the question that constantly  echoes behind Atwood's writing in "Cat's Eye", and the axis around which the  novel revolves. In attempting to present her own interpretation of  "time", Atwood simply achieves to prove that "nothing goes away", as time is a  multi-dimensional shape which exists only in our minds, enabling us to travel  around dimensions and be a different person in each one.

   "Cat's Eye" presents the retrospective of Elaine Risley, a middle-aged  acclaimed artist who discovers that she cannot move into the future as she is still trapped in the past, because of the childhood trauma caused by  Cordelia, Elaine's tormentor and soul-mate. Elaine was so deeply scarred by  the sinister girly "power-games" of her childhood years that she lost  herself, her memories, and "became" a cat's eye: cool as cold  marble, detached, and almost devoid of feeling.

   Atwood, however, is not merely concerned with the psycho-analysis of the  novel's main character, but also ventures in some serious  stereotype-breaking. Atwood's presentation of women and feminism is one such  example. Obviously, "Cat's Eye" is not a typical feminist novel; Atwood presents  little girls as sinister power freaks, pokes fun at the hysterics of feminist meetings in the 60s,and by the end of the novel, allows her main character to  find peace and protection in the arms of a simple but strong man. Atwood also  suggests that men are not to blame for "women falling on men" ie. women  getting hurt by feeling too much and too deeply for the naive and  free-spirited opposite sex.

   At the same time, however, Atwood presents the all-powerful figure of the  masculine God as a negative, vengeful, and threatening force, in contrast to  "Our Lady of Perpetual Help", the feminine Goddess who is presented as a  positive, illuminating, and compassionate figure.

   At the end of the day, "Cat's Eye" is a novel worth reading. Its density in  the presentation of theme and imagery is comparable to that of any  classic, making its reading an experience. Like most classics, the novel ends  with a solid and wise message:" an eye for an eye only leads to more  blindness", pointing out that to achieve inner peace one must understand and  forgive,although not forget.

Book review by Anna Hassapi the big site