The Boat by Alistair Macleod Essay

853 Words4 Pages
Tradition Against Freedom

"The Boat" by Alistair MacLeod is the story told from the perspective of university teacher looking back on his life. The narrator relates the first memories of his life until his father's death. The story focuses on the conflicting relation between the mother and the father, and their different perspectives on how their children should lead their lives. MacLeod uses features of setting to present the tension between tradition and freedom.
The contrast between the father's room with the rest of the house is the same contrast between the personalities of both parents. MacLeod describes two of the house's rooms. One is the kitchen, that is a reflection of the mother's personality. She is a woman who, "[runs] her
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The narrator remembers his father with cracked lips "that bled when he smiled…"(138), and his arms with open wounds that never heal. These wounds were inflicted by the salty water of the sea and the sun. The father's body "[has] never been intended for a fisherman…"(138), neither was his mind. The life that the father wanted to live was far from the fisherman's life. The names of the books, magazines and writers are also mentioned to allude the real father's passion, which is literature.
The seasons are part of the mother's life, while the father goes through life as if all were winter. The mother runs her house according to the seasons. She grows "miraculous gardens and magnificent flowers…"(132), and during berry picking season, "She would walk miles…"(132). Growing gardens, flowers and picking berries are seasonal activities. Every flower and fruit has its cycle during the year, which alludes how the mother lived through this. The importance of the seasons as part of the mother's life is presented even in the end of the story when the narrator says that the "[mother] looks through her lonely window onto the ice of winter…"(140). Therefore, she is alone gazing out the window, waiting for her death, which is symbolized by the winter. On the other hand, for the father all the seasons are the same. All of them are winter. The narrator describes his father, "with blue eyes flossing like clearest ice
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