MARGARET ATWOOD. THE FEMALE BODY. “ entirely devoted to the subject of “The Female Body.' Knowing how well you have written on this topic this. one's health, although she is not fond of it) and turn on the electric heater. She began to go back to bed but I. told her to put on the clothes: she had to go. PDF | On Jan 11, , Nancy Virna and others published Pdf Oryx and Crake By Margaret Atwood.
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The protagonists indulge themselves in sin living only in the present”. (Dima- Laza 42) Many novels of Margaret Atwood including The Heart Goes Last, Yevgeny. "Happy Endings". Margaret Atwood. John and Mary meet. What happens next? If you want a happy ending, try A. A. John and Mary fall in love and get married. Margaret Atwood, born in and raised in Ontario and Quebec, has pub- lished more than thirty acclaimed novels and collections of poems, essays, and.
It's a healthy sign, maybe I'll be able to after all, the way other women are supposed to. Christine hesitated. Only Dave could come, the wife had to stay behind with the baby. There are no shelves so she will have to keep the saucepan, the cup, the plate, the silverware, and the coffee-pot in one of the bureau drawers. The food supply is running low. The teapot was at last empty.
But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. THT Offred and her kind are restricted from almost everything.
They are restricted from communicating with each other, expressing their feelings and the utmost restriction being the restriction of thought. They have nothing for themselves. Language in India www. But even these gestures are restricted by the Marthas.
Hunter 98 Once Offred is asked by the Commander, in one of their secret meetings, what she wants. THT It is unimaginable, where a person who had had all the freedom that she had known from birth, is deprived of all of them at one point, and deprived of even the right that she ought have been given, is prohibited from knowing even the happenings around her: Are they even alive so that she may get a chance to see them? What is happening to the handmaid in the next household who is a facsimile of herself?
What is happening in the house in which she lives? She even keeps secret her own name separate from the name given to her by the household of the Commander, which is Offred. Women of Self-esteem Each of the handmaids must have been a woman of self-esteem.
Almost all of them would have had a family who must have loved each of them. THT 17 They have restricted themselves from thinking about their loved ones.
These are women who cannot bear children. THT Language in India www. THT 23 They are made to forget that they are deprived of their self-esteem. They are not even allowed to enter the house through the front doors. Men too are not exempted from this. Helpers of sinners are punished as sinners. The Guards who help the handmaids in any way face the same fate as the handmaids. Atwood has shown the intensity of such sufferings when a society moves in a disorderly fashion.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology Technological development, as everyone knows, has both advantages and disadvantages. Bodily Harm. Science Fiction in the Feminine: Back Matter Pages About this book Introduction Margaret Atwood's versatility as a writer and her use of a variety of novel forms from Gothic romance to science fiction are explored in this comprehensive introductory study of her work.
Coral Ann Howells arches over and doubles back between Margaret Atwood's writing from the s to the present day in order to indicate the significant continuities beneath her constant shifts of emphasis. Noted for her strong awareness of her own cultural identity as Canadian and a woman, Atwood's fiction nevertheless challenges the limits of such categories. She had just decided she didn't want the girl to see her visitor's orange tie; already, she knew, her position in the girl's eyes had suffered because no one had yet attempted to get her preg-nant.
She swung towards the garden with the tray; Christine trailed her, feeling lumpish and awkward. The girl was at least as big as she was but in a different way. The girl departed without a word, casting a dis-dainful backwards glance at the frayed jacket sleeves, the stained fingers. Christine was now determined to be espe-cially kind to him.
Christine set his cup of tea in front of him. She wasn't in the habit of paying much attention to the house or the garden; they were nothing special, far from being the largest on the street; other people took care of them.
But now she looked where he was looking, seeing it all as though from a different height: He came back to her face, sighing a little. He took sips of his tea, quickly and tenderly as though afraid of injuring the cup. He took only one, mak-ing a slight face as he ate it; but he had several more cups of tea while she finished the cakes.
She managed to find out from him that he had come over on a church fellowship— she could not decode the denomination—and was studying Philosophy or Theology, or possibly both. She was feeling well-disposed towards him: The teapot was at last empty.
He sat up straight in his chair, as though alerted by a soundless gong. Christine saw that he had placed his miniature camera on the stone sundial her mother had shipped back from England two years before. He wanted to take her picture. She was flattered, and settled herself to pose, smiling evenly. He took off his glasses and laid them beside his plate. For a moment she saw his myopic, unprotected eyes turned towards her, with something tremulous and confiding in them she wanted to close herself off from knowing about.
Then he went over and did something to the camera, his back to her. The next instant he was crouched beside her, his arm around her waist as far as it could reach, his other hand covering her own hands which she had folded in her lap, his cheek jammed up against hers. She was too startled to move. The camera clicked. He stood up at once and replaced his glasses, which glittered now with a sad triumph. She had been afraid he would attack her, she could admit it now, and he had; but not in the usual way.
He had raped, rapeo, rapere, rapui, to seize and carry off, not herself but her celluloid image, and inci-dentally that of the silver tea service, which glinted mock-ingly at her as the girl bore it away, carrying it regally, the insignia, the official jewels. Christine spent the summer as she had for the past three years: She had been a camper there, everything was familiar to her; she sailed almost better than she played tennis.
The second week she got a letter from him, post-marked Montreal and forwarded from her home address. It was printed in block letters on a piece of the green paper, two or three sentences. It began, "I hope you are well," then described the weather in monosyllables and ended, "I am fine.
In one of them a colour print was enclosed: She answered the first letter, but after that the seniors were in training for the races. At the end of the summer, packing to go home, she threw all the letters away. When she had been back for several weeks she received an-other of the green letters. This time there was a return ad-dress printed at the top which Christine noted with foreboding was in her own city.
Every day she waited for the phone to ring; she was so certain his first attempt at contact would be a disembodied voice that when he came upon her abruptly in mid-campus she was unprepared.
He was, if possible, thinner; his jacket sleeves had sprouted a lush new crop of threads, as though to conceal hands now so badly bitten they appeared to have been gnawed by rodents. His hair fell over his eyes, uncut, ungreased; his eyes in the hollowed face, a delicate triangle of skin stretched on bone, jumped behind his glasses like hooked fish. He had the end of a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, and as they walked he lit a new one from it.
She was thinking, I'm not going to get involved again, enough is enough, I've done my bit for internationalism. They were outside the Political Science building. Afterwards she decided it had been stupid of her to let him find out where her class was. Though a timetable was posted in each of the colleges: After that day he never left her alone.
Initially he waited outside the lecture rooms for her to come out. She said hello to him curtly at first and kept on going, but this didn't work; he followed her at a distance, smiling his changeless smile. Then she stopped speaking al-together and pretended to ignore him, but it made no differ-ence, he followed her anyway. The fact that she was in some way afraid of him—or was it just embarrassment?
Her friends started to no-tice, asking her who he was and why he was tagging along behind her; she could hardly answer because she hardly knew. As the weekdays passed and he showed no signs of let-ting up, she began to jog-trot between classes, finally to run. He was tireless, and had an amazing wind for one who smoked so heavily: She was aware of the ridiculous spectacle they must make, galloping across cam-pus, something out of a cartoon short, a lumbering elephant stampeded by a smiling, emaciated mouse, both of them locked in the classic pattern of comic pursuit and flight; but she found that to race made her less nervous than to walk sedately, the skin on the back of her neck crawling with the feel of his eyes on it.
At least she could use her muscles. She worked out routines, escapes: She would try to shake him by detours through baffling archways and corridors, but he seemed as familiar with the architectural mazes as she was herself. As a last refuge she could head for the women's dormitory and watch from safety as he was skidded to a halt by the recep-tionist's austere voice: Lunch became difficult. She would be sitting, usually with other members of the Debating Society, just digging nicely into a sandwich, when he would appear suddenly as though he'd come up through an unseen manhole.
She then had the choice of barging out through the crowded cafete-ria, sandwich half-eaten, or finishing her lunch with him standing behind her chair, everyone at the table acutely aware of him, the conversation stilting and dwindling. Her friends learned to spot him from a distance; they posted lookouts.
Several times she got tired of running and turned to confront him. Annoying and tedious though it was, his pursuit of her had an odd result: No one had ever found Christine mys-terious before. To her parents she was a beefy heavyweight, a plodder, lacking in flair, ordinary as bread. To her sisters she was the plain one, treated with an indulgence they did not give to each other: To her male friends she was the one who could be relied on. She was helpful and a hard worker, always good for a game of tennis with the athletes among them.
They invited her along to drink beer with them so they could get into the cleaner, more desirable Ladies and Escorts side of the beer parlour, taking it for granted she would buy her share of the rounds.
In moments of stress they confided to her their problems with women. There was nothing devious about her and nothing interesting. Christine had always agreed with these estimates of herself. In childhood she had identified with the false bride or the ugly sister; whenever a story had begun, "Once there was a maiden as beautiful as she was good," she had known it wasn't her.
That was just how it was, but it wasn't so bad. Her parents never expected her to be a brilliant social suc-cess and weren't overly disappointed when she wasn't.
She was spared the manoeuvring and anxiety she witnessed among others her age, and she even had a kind of special position among men: She had grown to share their contempt for most women. Now, however, there was something about her that could not be explained.
A man was chasing her, a peculiar sort of man, granted, but still a man, and he was without doubt attracted to her, he couldn't leave her alone. Other men examined her more closely than they ever had, apprais-ing her, trying to find out what it was those twitching be-spectacled eyes saw in her. They started to ask her out, though they returned from these excursions with their curi-osity unsatisfied, the secret of her charm still intact. Her opaque dumpling face, her solid bear-shaped body became for them parts of a riddle no one could solve.
Christine sensed this. In the bathtub she no longer imagined she was a dolphin; instead she imagined she was an elusive water-nixie, or sometimes, in moments of audacity, Marilyn Monroe.
The daily chase was becoming a habit; she even looked forward to it. In addition to its other benefits she was losing weight. All these weeks he had never phoned her or turned up at the house.
He must have decided however that his tactics were not having the desired result, or perhaps he sensed she was becoming bored. The phone began to ring in the early morning or late at night when he could be sure she would be there. Sometimes he would simply breathe she could recognize, or thought she could, the quality of his breathing , in which case she would hang up. Occasionally he would say again that he wanted to talk to her, but even when she gave him lots of time nothing else would follow.
Then he extended his range: Among crowds of people and in daylight she had not really been afraid of him; she was stronger than he was and he had made no recent attempt to touch her.
But the days were growing shorter and colder, it was almost November, often she was arriving home in twilight or a darkness bro-ken only by the feeble orange streetlamps. She brooded over the possibility of razors, knives, guns; by acquiring a weapon he could quickly turn the odds against her.
She avoided wearing scarves, remembering the newspaper sto-ries about girls who had been strangled by them. Putting on her nylons in the morning gave her a funny feeling. Her body seemed to have diminished, to have become smaller than his. Was he deranged, was he a sex maniac?
He seemed so harmless, yet it was that kind who often went berserk in the end. She pictured those ragged fingers at her throat, tearing at her clothes, though she could not think of herself as screaming.
Parked cars, the shrubberies near her house, the driveways on either side of it, changed as she passed them from unnoticed background to sinister shadowed fore-ground, every detail distinct and harsh: Yet every time she saw him in the clear light of morning or afternoon for he still continued his old methods of pursuit , his aging jacket and jittery eyes convinced her that it was she herself who was the tormentor, the persecutor.
She was in some sense re-sponsible; from the folds and crevices of the body she had treated for so long as a reliable machine was emanating, against her will, some potent invisible odour, like a dog's in heat or a female moth's, that made him unable to stop fol-lowing her.
Her mother, who had been too preoccupied with the unavoidable fall entertaining to pay much attention to the number of phone calls Christine was getting or to the hired girl's complaints of a man who hung up without speaking, announced that she was flying down to New York for the weekend; her father decided to go too.
Christine panicked: The girl would do nothing to help; she might even stand in the bath-room door with her arms folded, watching. Christine ar-ranged to spend the weekend at her married sister's.
When she arrived back Sunday evening she found the girl close to hysterics.
She said that on Saturday she had gone to pull the curtains across the French doors at dusk and had found a strangely contorted face, a man's face, pressed against the glass, staring at her from the garden. She claimed she had fainted and had almost had her baby a month too early right there on the livingroom carpet. Then she had called the police.
He was gone by the time they got there but she had recognized him from the afternoon of the tea; she had informed them he was a friend of Christine's. They called Monday evening to investigate, two of them. They were very polite, they knew who Christine's father was. Her father greeted them heartily; her mother hovered in the background, fidgeting with her porcelain hands, letting them see how frail and worried she was. She didn't like having them in the livingroom but they were necessary.
Christine had to admit he'd been following her around.
She was relieved he'd been discovered, relieved also that she hadn't been the one to tell, though if he'd been a citizen of the country she would have called the police a long time ago.
She insisted he was not dangerous, he had never hurt her. You're lucky you aren't dead. Her mother volunteered that the thing about people from another culture was that you could never tell whether they were insane or not because their ways were so differ-ent. The policeman agreed with her, deferential but also condescending, as though she was a royal halfwit who had to be humoured.
Christine had long ago torn up the letter with his address on it; she shook her head. The girl, clearing away the coffee cups, said if they didn't lock him up she was leaving, she wasn't going to be scared half out of her skin like that again. Next day when Christine came out of her Modern His-tory lecture he was there, right on schedule.
He seemed puzzled when she did not begin to run. She approached him, her heart thumping with treachery and the prospect of freedom. Her body was back to its usual size; she felt her-self a giantess, self-controlled, invulnerable. He looked at her with distrust. His own perennial smile faded; he took a step back from her. The other po-liceman lounged in the background; force would not be re-quired.
They nodded and grinned, respectful, scornful. He seemed to know perfectly well who they were and what they wanted. The first policeman phoned that evening to make his report. Her father talked with him, jovial and managing. She herself was now out of the picture; she had been protected, her function was over. She was not sure what went on in police stations. But it's not worth a court case: If he turns up here again they'll deport him. They went around to his rooming house, his rent's two weeks overdue; the landlady said she was on the point of kicking him out.
He seems happy enough to be getting his back rent paid and a free train ticket to Montreal. Pretended he didn't understand English.
He understood well enough, but he wasn't answer-ing. He didn't wait for her to hang up. Now that he was no longer an embarrassing present re-ality, he could be talked about, he could become an amusing story. In fact, he was the only amusing story Christine had to tell, and telling it preserved both for herself and for oth-ers the aura of her strange allure.
Her friends and the men who continued to ask her out speculated about his motives. One suggested he had wanted to marry her so he could remain in the country; another said that oriental men were fond of well-built women: She had not been attracted to him, rather the reverse, but as an idea only he was a romantic figure, the one man who had found her irre-sistible; though she often wondered, inspecting her un-changed pink face and hefty body in her full-length mirror, just what it was about her that had done it.
She avoided whenever it was proposed the theory of his insanity: But a new acquaintance, hearing the story for the first time, had a different explanation.
He fol-lowed all the girls like that. A short guy, Japanese or something, glasses, smiling all the time. This was a pretty weird guy. But if they paid any attention to him at first, if they were nice to him or anything, he was unshakeable.
He was a bit of a pest, but harmless. She had been one among many, then. She went back to playing tennis, she had been neglecting her game. A few months later the policeman who had been in charge of the case telephoned her again.
They don't stand for things like that in Quebec—had him out of here before he knew what happened. I guess he'll be better off in his own place. She was almost crying when she put down the phone. What had he wanted from her then? A Mother Superior. Did she really look sixty, did she look like a mother?
What did convents mean? Comfort, charity? Was it that something had happened to him, some intolerable strain just from being in this country; her tennis dress and ex-posed legs too much for him, flesh and money seemingly available everywhere but withheld from him wherever he turned, the nun the symbol of some final distortion, the robe and veil reminiscent to his near-sighted eyes of the women of his homeland, the ones he was able to under-stand?
But he was back in his own country, remote from her as another planet; she would never know. He hadn't forgotten her though. In the spring she got a postcard with a foreign stamp and the familiar block-letter writing.
On the front was a picture of a temple. He was fine, he hoped she was fine also, he was her friend.
A month later another print of the picture he had taken in the garden arrived, in a sealed manila envelope otherwise empty. Christine's aura of mystery soon faded; anyway, she herself no longer believed in it. Life became again what she had always expected. She graduated with mediocre grades and went into the Department of Health and Welfare; she did a good job, and was seldom discriminated against for being a woman because nobody thought of her as one.
She could afford a pleasant-sized apartment, though she did not put much energy into decorating it. She played less and less ten-nis; what had been muscle with a light coating of fat turned gradually into fat with a thin substratum of muscle.
She began to get headaches. As the years were used up and the war began to fill the newspapers and magazines, she realized which eastern country he had actually been from. She had known the name but it hadn't registered at the time, it was such a mi-nor place; she could never keep them separate in her mind. But though she tried, she couldn't remember the name of the city, and the postcard was long gone—had he been from the North or the South, was he near the battle zone or safely far from it?
Obsessively she bought magazines and pored over the available photographs, dead villagers, soldiers on the march, colour blowups of frightened or an-gry faces, spies being executed; she studied maps, she watched the late-night newscasts, the distant country and terrain becoming almost more familiar to her than her own. Once or twice she thought she could recognize him but it was no use, they all looked like him.
Finally she had to stop looking at the pictures. It both-ered her too much, it was bad for her; she was beginning to have nightmares in which he was coming through the French doors of her mother's house in his shabby jacket, carrying a packsack and a rifle and a huge bouquet of richly coloured flowers.
He was smiling in the same way but with blood streaked over his face, partly blotting out the fea-tures. She gave her television set away and took to reading nineteenth-century novels instead; Trollope and Galsworthy were her favourites.
When, despite herself, she would think about him, she would tell herself that he had been crafty and agile-minded enough to survive, more or less, in her country, so surely he would be able to do it in his own, where he knew the language.
She could not see him in the army, on either side; he wasn't the type; and to her knowl-edge he had not believed in any particular ideology. He would be something nondescript, something in the back-ground, like herself. Perhaps he had become an interpreter. Polarities Gentle and just pleasure It is, being human, to have won from space This unchill, habitable interior She had a little packsack in which she carried around her books and notebooks. To Morrison, whose mind shambled from one thing to another, picking up, fin-gering, setting down, she was a small model of the kind of efficiency he ought to be displaying more of.
Perhaps that was why he had never wanted to touch her: Sloth aroused him: She marched beside him along the corridor and down the stairs, her short clipped steps syncopating with his own lank strides. As they descended, the smell of straw, drop-pings and formaldehyde grew stronger: When- he saw that she was leaving the building too and probably going home, he offered her a lift.
When he'd asked her if she wanted to take in a film with him she said, "Only if you let me pay for my own ticket. It was colder, the weak red sun almost down, the snow purpling and creaky. She jumped up and down beside the car till he got the plug-in engine heater untangled and the door opened, her head coming out of the enormous second-hand fur coat she wore like a gopher's out of its burrow.
He had seen a lot of gophers on the drive across, many of them dead; one he had killed himself, an accident, it had dived practically under the car wheels. The car itself hadn't held up either: He'd had to junk it, and had decided stoically to do without a car until he found he couldn't.
He swung the car onto the driveway that led from the university. It bumped as though crossing a metal-plated bridge: He should take the car for long drives more often; it was getting stale. Louise was talking more than she nor-mally did; she was excited about something. Two of her students had been giving her a hassle, but she told them they didn't have to come to class. Morrison was not up on the theories of group dynamics. He liked the old way: It disconcerted him when they slouched into his office and mumbled at him, fidgeting and self-conscious, about their fathers or their love lives.
He didn't tell them about his father or his love life and he wished they would observe the same reticence, though they seemed to think they had to do it in order to get extensions on their term papers.
At the beginning of the year one of his students had wanted the class to sit in a circle but luckily the rest of them preferred straight lines. He crunched the car to a halt, fender against the rockbank, snowbank. Here they did not take the snow away; they spread sand on it, layer by layer as it fell, confident there would be no thaw.
He hadn't been paying at-tention. My place, my apartment, that's what I've been working on. It was stuccoed with a greyish gravel Morrison found spiritually depleting. There were a few older houses, but they were quickly being torn down by developers; soon the city would have no visible past at all.
Everything else was highrises, or worse, low barrack-shaped multiple housing units, cheaply tacked together. Sometimes the rows of flimsy buildings—snow on their roofs, rootless white faces peering suspiciously out through their windows, kids' toys scattered like trash on the Walks—reminded him of old photographs he had seen of mining camps.
They were the houses of people who did not expect to be living in them for long. Her apartment was in the basement. As they went around to the back and down the stairs, avoiding on the landing a newspaper spread with the overshoes and boots of the family living upstairs, Morrison remembered vividly and with a recurrence of panic his own search for a place, a roof, a container, his trudges from address to address, his tours of clammy, binlike cellars hastily done up by the owners in vinyl tile and sheets of cheap panelling to take advantage of the student inflow and, the housing squeeze.
He'd known he would never survive a winter buried like that or closed in one of the glass-sided cardboard-carton apartment buildings. Were there no real ones, mellowed, in-teresting, possible? Finally he had come upon an available second storey; the house was pink gravel instead of grey, the filth was daunting and the landlady querulous, but he had taken it immediately just to be able to open a window and look out. He had not known what to expect of Louise's room. He had never visualized her as living anywhere, even though he had collected her and dropped her off outside the house a number of times.
He swivelled, sur-veying, comparing it with the kind of interior he thought of himself as inhabiting but never got around to assembling. She had obviously put a lot of energy into it, but the result was less like a room than like several rooms, pieces of which had been cut out and pasted onto one another.
He could not decide what created this effect: But her table was ersatz Victorian and the prints Picasso. The bed was concealed be-hind a partly drawn dyed burlap curtain at the end of the room, but visible on the bedside rug were two light blue fuzzy slippers that startled, almost shocked him: Louise brought the cocoa and sat down opposite him on the floor. They talked as usual about the city: It was this rather than mutual attraction which led them to spend as much time together as they did; most of the others were married or had been here too long and had given up.
The films changed slowly; the one theatre, with its out-dated popular comedies, they had sneered at. They had gone to the opera together when it had come, though: At intermission Morrison had glanced around at the silent, chunky audience in the lobby, some of the women still in early-sixties pointed-toe spike heels, and murmured to Louise that it was like tourist bro-chures from Russia.
One Sunday before the snow came they had gone for an impromptu drive; at her suggestion they had aimed for the zoo twenty miles from the city.
After they made it through the oil derricks there had been trees; not the right kind of trees—he had felt, as he had on the way across, that the land was keeping itself apart from him, not letting him in, there had to be more to it than this repetitive, non-committal drabness—but still trees; and the zoo once they reached it was spacious, the animals kept in enclosures large enough for them to run in and even hide in if they wanted to.
Louise had been there before—how, since she had no car, he didn't ask—and showed him around. They don't even know they're in a zoo. Morrison didn't as a rule like any animal bigger and wilder than a cat, but these kept far enough away to be tolerable.
That day she had told him a little about herself, a departure: She had travelled in Europe, she told him, and had spent a year studying in England. She shrugged. It wasn't the draft; he was really over-age, though here they kept wanting to think he was a dodger, it made his presence more acceptable to them. The job market had been tight back in the States and also, when he tried later, in what they called here the East. But in all fairness it hadn't been only the money or the dismalness of the situation back home.
He had wanted something else, some adventure; he felt he might learn something new. He had thought the city would be near the mountains. But except for the raw gully through which the brownish river curved, it was flat. She laughed. I'm not typical, I'm all-inclusive. He ought to approach someone or something; he was beginning to feel isolated inside his clothes and skin.
His students were out of the question. Besides, they were so thick, so impermeable; the girls, even the more slender ones, made him think of slabs of substance white and congealed, like lard. And the other single women on staff were much older than he was: There must be a place where he could meet someone, some nice loosely structured girl with ungroomed, seedy breasts, more thing than idea, slovenly and gratuitous.
They existed, he was familiar with them from what he had begun to think of as his previous life, but he had not kept in touch with any of them. They had all been good at first but even the sloppiest had in time come to require something from him he thought he was not yet ready to give: His mind, he felt, was needed for other things, though he wasn't quite sure what they were. He was tasting, exploring: Louise wasn't at all like them; she would never lend him her body for nothing, even temporarily, though she had the fur spread out around her now like a rug and had raised one corduroy-trousered knee, letting him see in profile the taut bulge of her somewhat muscular thigh.
She probably went skiing and ice skating. He imagined his long body locked in that athletic, chilly grip, his eyes darkened by fur. Not yet, he thought, raising his half-full cocoa cup between them. I can do without, I don't need it yet. It was the weekend and Morrison was painting his apart-ment as he habitually did on weekends; he had been at it off and on since he moved in. This was the third coat.
Morrison's vision of wall-painting had been drawn from the paint ads—spot-free housewives gliding it on, one-handed and smiling—but it wasn't easy. The paint got on the floor, on the furniture, in his hair.
Before he could even begin he had to cart out the accumulated discards of several generations of previous tenants: Messiness interested him only in women; he could not live surrounded by it himself.
One wall of the livingroom had been pink, one green, one orange and one black. He was painting them white. The last tenants, a group of Nigerian students, had left weird magic-looking murals on the walls: Mor-rison painted these two walls first, but it made him uneasy to know the pictures were still there underneath the paint. Sometimes as he rollered his way around the room he won-dered what the Nigerians had thought the first time it hit forty below.
The landlady seemed to prefer foreign students, proba-bly because they were afraid to complain: The cellar was a warren of cubbyholes; he was not sure yet exactly who lived in them. Soon after he had moved in a Korean had appeared at his door, hopefully smiling. He wanted to talk about income tax. I have a lot of work to do. He felt picayune about it later when he discovered the Korean had a wife and child down in his cubbyhole with him; often in the fall they had put fishes out to dry, stringing them on the clotheslines where they twirled in the wind like plastic gas-station decorations.
He was doing the ceiling, craning his neck, with the latex oozing down the handle of the roller onto his arm, when the buzzer went. He almost hoped it was the Korean, he seldom saw anyone on the weekends.
But it was Louise. What would she demand from him? He knew she would be better at it than he was. He made tea in the kitchen and she sat at the table and watched him. Blake wasn't his field. He didn't mind the earlier lyrics but the prophecies bored him and the extravagant letters in which Blake called his friends angels of light and vilified his ene-mies he found in bad taste. I'm supposed to do the 'Nurse's Song.
I've been trying to get through to them but they're all doing the one-up thing, they don't know what's happening. They sit there and pull each other's pa-pers apart, I mean, they don't know what poetry's supposed to be for. But I'm not going to do it, not the way they want. I'm giving them one of my own poems. That says it all. I mean, if they have to read one right there in the class they'll get what Blake was trying to do with cadences. I'm getting it xeroxed.
He hadn't thought of Lou-ise as the poetry-writing type. If they don't get what I mean though I'll know they're all phonies and I can just walk out. Morrison felt his loyalties were being divided; also he didn't want her to cry, that would involve dangerous com-forting pats, even an arm around her shoulder. He tried to shut out an involuntary quick image of himself on top of her in the middle of the kitchen floor, getting white latex all over her fur.
Not today, his mind commanded, pleaded. As if in answer the reverberations of an organ boomed from beneath their feet, accompanied by a high quavering voice: Rock of a-ges, cleft for me Louise took it as a signal. She got up and went out as abruptly as she had come, thanking him perfunctorily for the tea she hadn't drunk. The organ was a Hammond, owned by the woman downstairs, a native. When her husband and nubile child were home she shouted at them. The rest of the time she ran the vacuum cleaner or picked out hymn tunes and old fa-vourites on the organ with two fingers, singing to herself.
The organ was to Morrison the most annoying. At first he tried to ignore it; then he put on opera records, attempting to drown it out. Finally he recorded it with his tape re-corder. When the noise got too aggravating he would aim the speakers down the hot air register and run the tape through as loudly as possible. It gave him a sense of partici-pation, of control. He did this now, admiring the way the tape clashed with what she was currently playing: Her husband was supposed to keep the walk shovelled but didn't.
Louise came back the next day before Morrison was up. He was awake but he could tell by the chill in the room—his breath was visible—and by the faint smell of oil that some-thing had gone wrong with the furnace again. It was less trouble to stay in bed, at least till the sun was well risen, then to get up and try the various ways of keeping warm. When the buzzer went he pulled a blanket around him-self and stumbled to the door. She was in the door before he could fend her off.