Literature Study GuidesSurfacingPart 3 Chapter 22 Summary

Surfacing | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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Surfacing | Part 3, Chapter 22 | Summary



The others locked the doors as they left; the narrator breaks a window to get in. Inside she cleans up the glass and then takes a nap. After waking up hungry she goes to the garden and begins crying. She's angry at her parents for choosing to die and leave her alone. She realizes if she prays, she can bring them back. Later, on a visit to the outhouse and then in her bed, she is overwhelmed by various fears: "The fear arrives like waves, like footfalls, it has no center." She becomes convinced her parents are trying to get to her, but she doesn't "know any longer who they are; however they come back they won't be the same."


As the narrator begins to process her parents' deaths, she goes through some very typical emotions, in particular anger at them for abandoning her. Anger against someone who has died, including feelings of abandonment, is a common reaction, even in a person who has remained tethered to reality (as the narrator has not). She has moved into a state where her emotional gut reaction dictates her reality. Just as she believes her parents "chose" to leave her, she believes she can bring them back by wanting it to be so: "I willed it, I called to them, that they should arrive is logical." In her mind she and her parents have the power to determine life and death. Even if the power the narrator feels is not real, it is important she feels powerful rather than passive. While her mind is out of control, her emotional self seems to be making progress.

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