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The Boat by Alistair MacLeod

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  • Essay length: 962 words
  • Submitted: 17/08/2006
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University Degree James Joyce

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The Boat by Alistair MacLeod

"It's hard to think of anyone else who can cast a spell the way Alistair MacLeod can." -Alice Munro

Readers of Alistair MacLeod have identified "an abiding sense of loss and regret.... [and] a pervasive sense of sadness" in the writing, as well as the "proximity of most characters ... the final elemental darkness threatening to reduce all hopes to one uniform and meaningless conclusion" (Berces 116). MacLeod's narrator can be considered to be mourning, and the story that he tells is an activity of that process; that is, telling stories has the function of helping a narrator memorialize the dead and thus partially work through feelings of grief.

"The Boat" begins with the moment of "terrible fear" that awakens the narrator, and the confusion he feels as he comes to an awareness of his surroundings. The link between the narrator's feelings of being "foolishly alone" and the absence of his father is underscored here. The narrator describes his frequent early morning awakenings where he faces "the terrible fear that I have overslept ... [and] that my father is waiting for me" in a manner that suggests an

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