As Atwood is a prominent collector of themes, those found in Murder in the Dark are also found in her other works in one form or another. The most common themes found in Atwood's work are sexuality, marginalization of women and minority groups, social fears (such as growing old) as well as progression and movement, and the relationship between old and young (and the relationship between being old and being young), distrust of religion, patriarchy, issues of power, gender politics, body image, narrative voice and design, language, subversion of traditional literary forms, revisionist myth-making, history, satire, irony, Canadian nationalism, spirituality, the environment, feminist anger, bashing of males, public persona, coldness/unreliability of her narrators (as both the short story and the name of the book implies), and pessimism.
Murder in the Dark is comprised of four sections with twenty-seven prose poems in total. The first section consists of eight short works: "Autobiography," "Making Poison," "The Boy's Own Annual 1911," "Before the War," "Horror Comics," "Boyfriends," "The Victory Burlesk," and "Fainting." There seems to be a marked progression in theme and tone as the collection moves from youthful naivete toward a more adult-like skepticism. However, as always, her writing also reflects a series of binary oppositions whereby she is both curious but not fooled, skeptical but mystical, and youthful but wise. Thus, in...
(The entire section is 1290 words.)
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