Examine the most important or striking details of the following passage. Point out details on character and characterization, setting, conflict, style, and narrative point of view: "She looks at the paintings, she looks into them. Every one of them is a picture of Lucy. You can’t see her exactly, but she’s there, in behind the pink stone island or the one behind that. In the picture of the cliff she is hidden by the clutch of fallen rocks toward the bottom, in the one of the river shore she is crouching beneath the overturned canoe. In the yellow autumn woods she’s behind the tree that cannot be seen because of the other trees, over beside the blue sliver of pond; but if you walked into the picture and found the tree, it would be the wrong one, because the right one would be further on. Everyone has to be somewhere, and this is where Lucy is. She is in Lois’s apartment, in the holes that open inwards on the wall, not like windows but like doors. She is here. She is entirely alive."
This passage, which makes up the last two paragraphs in the short story “Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood, reminds us of the key relationships and themes in the story and brings them to some kind of conclusion, albeit one where questions are still raised.
The two main characters in the story are Lois and Lucy, friends from summer camp. We learn how Lois is almost haunted by the memory of her childhood friend who died during one of the camps and how Lucy, despite her death, is a constant presence. As in their friendship as children, there is confusion and complexity in the way Lois ‘sees’ Lucy in these pictures. How well does Lois really know Lucy, and what does she really know of her death? These questions occur to the reader, but perhaps also echo in Lois’s thoughts. So much of her life has been impacted by trying to make sense of the friendship and the death, to the extent that she feels “as if she was living not one life but two: her own, and another, shadowy life that hovered around her and would not let itself be realized." As such, the presence of Lucy in the pictures both completes and haunts Lois.
A key aspect of the setting of the story is the relationship and differences between wild spaces and cultivated spaces, and this paragraph also speaks to this. The use of images to do with nature and plants starts to build an awareness for the reader of how the wild can creep into and even take over domestic spaces. The pictures on the walls represent this influence. The way the presence of Lois in the pictures is described in this paragraph additionally draws attention to secrecy and hidden elements, as seen in phrases like “she is hidden by the clutch of fallen rocks” and “she’s behind the tree that cannot be seen because of the other trees.” Nature—and, therefore, life—echo the confusion and lack of answers in the details of the death of Lois.