Literature Study GuidesSurfacingPart 2 Chapter 13 Summary

Surfacing | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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Surfacing | Part 2, Chapter 13 | Summary



The next morning Joe and the narrator decide she will move out when they get back to the city.

The four set off in canoes to find the rock painting location she'd identified from her father's papers. When they stop for lunch, they eat and discuss a variety of topics, and David makes some rude comments in typical fashion. They move on. Along the way the narrator thinks about her lack of emotions and concludes she only has one: fear that she isn't really alive. She remembers being anesthetized as if it were sinking down through layers of darkness, then rising up again to daylight with no memory of what had happened.

Around four o'clock they pass two Americans on an official-looking surveying trip, chainsawing trees. David expresses his dislike for Americans. They pull onto shore and unload the canoes, then portage across the land. The narrator sees a dead heron hanging by a rope.


The interactions between David and Anna in this chapter show a dark side of David. He dislikes "Women's Lib" and crudely teases Anna, insulting her intelligence and asking her "how she would like to be raped by a porcupine." However, the chapter highlights a few interesting similarities between David and the narrator. David's loud dislike of the men they pass on the way—who they take to be Americans—echoes the narrator's own private thoughts. She, too, dislikes Americans and finds their behavior both destructive and suspicious. Additionally, both David and the narrator are the ones who exert control over the terms of their romantic relationships. Even the narrator's statement "I think men ought to be superior" is more of a jab at Joe, who moves between being passive and passive-aggressive, than a statement of the narrator's beliefs about men and women generally. David picks up on this when instead of responding, Joe just grunts. David tells the narrator, "He'd make a great end-table lamp." Even to this insult, Joe only gives a wan smile.

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