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The poem They Eat Out by Margaret Atwood transforms the somewhat mundane experience of dining out at a restaurant into a powerful and somewhat caustic message regarding gender roles.

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Kao IB 2 English 18 November 2012 Word Count: 595 Commentary: Margaret Atwood?s They Eat Out The poem They Eat Out by Margaret Atwood transforms the somewhat mundane experience of dining out at a restaurant into a powerful and somewhat caustic message regarding gender roles. Atwood employs potent literary techniques such as enjambment, symbolism, and metaphorical references to highlight her vision of female strength and the illusion of male progressivism. Writing the poem from a first person perspective, Atwood effectively infuses her own voice as the work progresses from a simple literal description to a symbolic transfiguration. On a literal level, the poem presents a couple who often go out to eat and argue over potentially petty things. ...read more.


The line halts at the word ?I? because here Atwood is emphasizing that she, the woman, is the sole individual who has the power to endow this gift of immortality to the man. This encourages the reader to consider why the woman would be the one to hold this power and implying that such immortality maybe manifested in the continuation of a man?s bloodline through reproduction. Enjambment also highlights other crucial words and phrases such as the ?magic fork?, a symbol of power, and ?weapon?, a symbol of a potentially useful or radical tool. By ending lines with significant objects in the poem, Atwood calls attention to these symbols before relaying their relevance to the work?s theme of inequitable gender roles. ...read more.


The reaction of the observers mentioned in the poem is also key: a contrast is made between reactions of amusement and reactions of boredom. The observers are representative of the larger community of society as a whole which essentially is at odds over whether or not the man truly has the potential to be a ?weapon? for change, or if his new status as an immortal hero is simply another illusion. Atwood weaves together several literary techniques as well as her distinct voice to make it clear that by the end, the male has achieved that status of immortality he so desired, yet ultimately both he and society as a whole give little to no credit to the woman, the who helped him to achieve such glowing immortality in the first place. ...read more.

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