Death by Landscape and the Canadian Identity Essay

Words: 1838
Pages: 8

Death by Landscape

“Death by Landscape” shows subtle, but nonetheless significant, qualities regarding Canadian culture. The author (Margaret Atwood) uses Canadian landscape, Native culture, and character attributes to symbolize the Canadian identity. The struggle between Native Canadians and European Canadians to define what makes somebody Canadian is a major theme in this story. The historically inaccurate depiction of Native practices, as well as the less than flattering depiction of Native people, is an all too real issue which is alluded to in this story. Another major reference to Canadian identity is the depiction of the differences between Americans and Canadians. The characters, Lucy and Lois, symbolize Americans and Canadians.
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She begins to discover how the Canadian wilderness has shaped her personal identity. She begins to explore her memories and seems to have revelations about herself. More specifically, Lois has been using the Canadian wilderness as a symbol of Lucy in her mind. Lucy was lost; she disappeared and was swallowed by the landscape. There were no remains to be buried, no tangible item to fix Lucy’s spirit to. Lois never attained emotional closure regarding Lucy’s death. Instead, she attached all her emotions at the loss of Lucy to the Canadian Wilderness. This quotation demonstrates Lois’s seemingly irrational fear of the north a disdain that only Lois can understand.


Lois refuses to travel north because she does not want to see the thing that has haunted her for all these years. She does not want to be reminded of Lucy through the landscape associated with her. She has neglected to see that through her constant obsession with Lucy; the Canadian wilderness has become a part of her. In many ways, Lois’s character is used to represent the restrained feelings that all Canadians may have towards the wilderness. Canada is a country so full of, so dominated by untamed wilderness that it changes Canadian’s way of thinking. Whether or not the image of the wilderness is positive or negative, every Canadian carries a part of the wilderness with them in their mind. Lois carries this image with her not just in her