Literature Study GuidesSurfacingPart 3 Chapter 21 Summary

Surfacing | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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Surfacing | Part 3, Chapter 21 | Summary



The next morning, Joe wants to make love again, but the narrator isn't interested. After breakfast, as they pack up to leave, they talk about Random Samples. Anna points out they didn't take any footage of the narrator, and David thinks it would be good to have her have sex with someone (like himself) on camera. The men go to put one of the canoes away. The narrator takes all the film and throws it into the lake. When she sees the men coming back, she gets in the other canoe and paddles away. She can see David trying to salvage his film and Joe running along the shore calling to her. She hides as Evans comes to take the others away, thinking about the baby she is certain is growing inside her. She watches them leave. She's alone.


This chapter shows the narrator taking action to fight what she sees as artificial and unnatural. Thus it engages the power theme as well as the natural versus artificial theme. She exercises her power of action by destroying the Random Samples film. Although many of the images on the film may be disturbing to the narrator—such as the dead heron—it is likely Anna's humiliating nude scene is what she most wants to destroy, exercising her power as a woman on behalf of another woman's victimization. She wants to protect Anna, even though Anna represents an unnatural image of womanhood the narrator despises. Anna in her makeup is "an imitation of a woman who is also an imitation." She sees Anna as a victim of society's expectations of womanhood: "Nothing goes in, nothing comes out. She takes her clothes off or puts them on."

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