The Theme Of Death In The Boat By Alistair Macleod

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The Boat is a short story written by Alistair MacLeod in 1968. The story is narrated by a boy when after he has grown up and become a professor at Midwestern university in Cape Breton, east Canada. The narrator reflects on how events in his childhood have shaped the man he is today. He speaks about his family and the cold, frosty fishing community in Nova Scotia they belonged to. There is a somber tone and a presence of sadness, dismay and death throughout the extract. It is told in the first person, which allows for the emotions of characters to be expressed the most precise. This way, themes and symbols of the short story are carried across to the reader better. The narrator recalls his youthful teenage years as the only son, and youngest…show more content…
It sets the pace for the extract, and the nature of the people. Death is seen under many lights in The Boat, for instance when the narrator is talking about the sad overflowing ashtray of cigarettes by his bedside, he calls them “grey corpses” that “bear witness to the extinction of the latest spark and silently await the crushing out of the most recent of their fellows.” The association of death with cigarettes frightens the narrator, “And then because I am afraid to be alone with death, I dress rapidly, make a great to-do about clearing my throat….” The narrator uncomfortably fears death assuming it is avoidable. When death is on the mind of the narrator he seems to become tense and the scenes becomes rushed and shady. Death influences writing styles such as diction. Important diction such as “corpses” “terrible” “darkened” “restlessly” and “ineffectual” create a mysterious meager reminiscence of the narrator’s childhood, and where he is…show more content…
Having experienced death and separation of family members, and have gone through the trials and tribulations of a past filled with decisions now regretted. The fishing culture and heritage have led both father and son to places where they feel incomplete. For the father this place is his room of books. For the son this place is the all-night restaurant. This extract goes to show what a powerful influence ones childhood has on the rest of their life, and how it can create fears such as that of

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