Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cat's Eye Discussion Questions, Round 2

4. Discuss the impact of the type of parenting received by Elaine, Cordelia, and their third friend, Grace. At one point Elaine's mother tells her that she does not have to be with the girls that are tormenting her. Is her mother in any way responsible for what happened to Elaine?

5. Early in the novel, Elaine is warned by her first new friend, Carol, not to go down into the ravine: "There might be men there." Discuss the significance of this warning, taking into account the later incident between the girls at the ravine. What does this say about our ability to apprehend danger? If you're read other Atwood novels, in what way does she explore the nature of evil and its relationship to gender?

6. Why do you think Elaine became an artist? What is the significance that she did so? Do artists use life experiences in ways nonartists do not?


Kim L said...

4. I think that Elaine's mother had the ability to help her with the situation more than she did. She could have talked to Elaine or let Elaine confide in her, or talked to the mothers and stood up for Elaine, but it seems like that was not the acceptable thing to do at the time. It seems like there was more of a disconnect between the parents and the children at that time, unlike today when parents are supposed to be friends with their children ala Gilmore Girls.

5. They don't know exactly why it would be a bad thing if there was men down there, it just seems like Carol might be repeating a warning from her mother. The ravine is a dangerous place, and Cordelia chooses it to torment Elaine precisely because she knows how dangerous it is.

Lisa said...

4. I agree to a certain degree with Kim regarding Elaine's mother. I found myself thinking, "why doesn't she know what's going on?" or "why don't you do something!". Then, I'm not sure that's exactly fair. We don't know what her mother was thinking or doing. We only get Elaine's version of what's going on. I know that I hid something pretty traumatic from my parents when I was a teenager, and I know they would feel awful if they knew it now. I think it's just too complicated to place blame on her mother.

5. I think this is just one of those things that children are told to avoid, which then makes it that much more attractive to them in a weird sort of way. It holds some mysterious fascination for them simply because its forbidden. I think this was meant to be a sort of dare and 'punishment' for Elaine. Maybe she thought if she could go down there and show she wasn't afraid she could win some influence with the other girls.

6. I know absolutely nothing about art. I have always thought that artists are more sensitive and intuitive -- more in touch with their feelings. Maybe this is because of something that they go through in their formative years, like Elaine.

Michaelann said...

4. Cordelia's parents lived in their own worlds with the children being an after thought. Grace's mother was strict and also very judgemental which she passed on to Grace. Elaine's parents were different than most and wanted the children to be able to make their own choices.
I agree that Elaine's mother could have helped with the situation more than she did.

5. At the ime of the warning "men" were one of the scariest images for the girls. The ravine itself always seemed to hold some sort of danger in it, be it the bridge, the men, or the dead people water. The fact that later Elaine almost freezes to death in the ravine shows that some part of the girls realized the danger there. Cordelia chose to throw the hat down there because Elaine would have to go to the dead people water to get it.

6. It was a way for Elaine to deal with her experiences. She could put the emotions and feelings from the experience into the paintings and in a way remove herself from them.
Artists experiences are often included in their art from writing about an experience to drawing images of the experience.