Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Surfacing Study Guide." Course Hero. 8 Jan. 2018. Web. 18 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Surfacing/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2018, January 8). Surfacing Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Surfacing/

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Surfacing Study Guide." January 8, 2018. Accessed July 18, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Surfacing/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Surfacing Study Guide," January 8, 2018, accessed July 18, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Surfacing/.

Surfacing | Symbols

Share
Share

Water

The title of the novel, Surfacing, suggests itself as an overall metaphor for the emotional journey of the narrator. She dives into her subconscious, into her memories, into her grief, and into her delusions. She surfaces again having put the parts of her whole self together. The dive she takes to the bottom of the lake symbolically represents the emotional work she must do to face her feelings about her abortion and about her parents' lives and deaths. So the water, and in particular the lake, function as an important symbol of the narrator's subconscious, in which she has buried or submerged painful memories and into which she must go to find healing.

Dead Heron

On the way to find one of the rock paintings, the narrator sees a dead heron hanging by its feet from a tree. She knows herons are not good for food, so there is no good reason to kill one. She assumes Americans killed it since they are known to kill without reason. However, the men who killed the heron turn out to be Canadians, which shocks the narrator. She is disturbed by her inability to tell the difference between Canadians and Americans, and she worries the American influence will end up being too strong for Canadian culture to resist. Thus the dead heron comes to symbolizes both the passive victimhood of Canadian culture and the destructive American influence.

Barometer Couple

The wooden barometer couple—a quaint husband and wife—seen in Paul and Madame's home becomes a symbol of the forces that keep relationships together. At first they seem to represent Paul and Madame; the narrator remarks on how Paul and Madame are just like carvings. As the novel progresses they come to symbolize all the reasons couples stay together. As the narrator comes to realize, there are a variety of different bonds between couples, and love is not necessarily the only one or even the strongest one. David and Anna's relationship seems based on mutual hate, or at least a mutual struggle for power. Her own parents seemed to share a bond they found in rejecting society together. Until the final moments of the story, her relationship with Joe seems stable only as long as it doesn't stray into the realm of emotion and simply remains a convenient sexual outlet for both. The barometer couple is, ultimately, any couple that is bound together for any reason.

Questions for Symbols

View all
Question 1 The reason many students fail exams is because they do not study. incomplete comparison lack of parallelism faulty predication dangling modifier 1 points Question 2 Scuba diving is where yo
essay on my hobby essay on corruption essay on over population
The smart city concept goes beyond the use of ICT for better resource use and less emissions. It means smarter urban transport networks, upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities, and more e
Edit for Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers Practice 3 editing Paragraphs for misplaced and Dangling modifiers, Find and correct any misplaced or dangling modifiers in the following para graphs. (1) Car
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Surfacing? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!