Cordelia Cat's Eye Analysis

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Margaret Atwood’s novel ‘Cat’s Eye’ explores the relationship between Elaine and her childhood friend Cordelia, by examining the degree to which Elaine’s memories of Cordelia and the past have haunted her. Atwood also explores how Elaine is not just haunted by Cordelia, but by her conflicting sense of self, and Mrs. Smeath’s judgement of her. Her return to Toronto evokes her feelings of being watched and judged; becoming increasingly paranoid about seeing Cordelia, and resorting to bad habits she would enact to cope with Cordelia as a child. Elaine is also haunted by her conflicting sense of self; wanting to have both friends (Cordelia, Grace and Carol) but not be considered an outsider, leading her to wish to become “invisible” and begin finding…show more content…
Elaine begins to describe the city as being “watchful” and “calculating”; fears stemming from Cordelia’s ability to linger in Elaine’s thoughts. Through her belief that “nothing goes away”, Elaine feels like she is “still a child”, hence, still feeling Cordelia’s presence. Elaine is unable to even “…walk down the street without a glimpse of [Cordelia]”, highlighting the impact her relationship with Cordelia had over her. She then admits that her biggest fear in Toronto is “knowing [Cordelia is] there but not knowing where…”. Elaine’s return to Toronto also leads her to repeat detrimental compulsive habits which she used to enact to cope with Cordelia. She admits “I’ve started to chew my fingers again. There’s blood, a taste I remember”. Despite efforts to supress and “protect [herself] from any further, darker memories of [Cordelia’s]”, returning to Toronto ultimately triggers them, allowing Elaine remember how and why Cordelia has had such an impact on her. The structure of the novel demonstrates how Elaine’s memories don’t always flow chronologically, and that one thing can trigger another. Only after viewing her paintings in order, Elaine realises “chronology has won after all” and is able forgive and understand why Cordelia has haunted her. All these examples demonstrate how Cordelia’s prominent presence in Elaine’s thoughts and memories, have haunted Elaine as an adult, and have enabled her to eventually understand why Cordelia has impacted

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