In "The Edible Woman", why doesn't Marian like to eat? How does Marian rebel against society through the food?

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sensei918 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman, the main character Marian becomes unable to eat after she gets engaged to her boyfriend Peter. She had thought that their relationship was casual, as Peter was always adamant about not getting married, but everything changes after he proposes to her. Suddenly she feels trapped by her decision. She sees her roommate Ainsely trying to get pregnant by tricking the potential father; she sees her friend Clara, someone close to her own age, already trapped in a marriage with three kids, and some part of her rebels, though she is not aware of it consciously.  At this point, the book switches from Marian's first person account to a third person perspective of her. She sees her women friends as being devoured and does not want it to happen to her, too.  Suddenly, food repulses her, and slowly, she finds herself eating less and less.  First, she cannot eat meat, but gradually even salad starts to disgust her. Finally, event he rice pudding she has been sustaining herself on, starts to look like cocoons, and she can't eat that any more either. She feels like she is being swallowed instead of being the one doing the swallowing. So, at first, she doesn't realize she is rebelling against her situation; she thinks there is something terribly wrong with her.  Gradually, Marian realizes that she should not marry Peter, and she returns to her real self, again becoming the narrator of her own life.   

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The Edible Woman

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