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.

a. Identify the author and the story from which the passage comes.b. Examine the most important or striking details of the passage itself. Depending on the passage, point out details on character and characterization, setting, conflict, style, and narrative point of view.c. Include a clear thesis statement that explains the importance of the passage in terms of the rest of the story. Depending on the passage, show how it contributes to theme, to character, to conflict, or to setting.

Expert Answers

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I’m happy to help you with your question. As educators are usually limited to answering one question at a time, rather than completing whole assignments, I will try to give you some ideas on how you could further work on the answers to your questions.

First of all, this passage is taken from a short story by Margaret Atwood. The short story is entitled “Death by Landscape,” and it follows the life of Lois, a retired old lady who is reminiscing about her past. The passage you are quoting here is taken from the very end of the short story, when Lois remembers her friend Lucy, whom she had met in Camp Manitou all those years ago when she was only fourteen years old and who tragically disappeared. Whilst the story never explicitly says so, the story very much suggests that Lucy committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. In your essay, you might therefore want to explore further the link between nature and death—as the title of the short-story itself even links these two themes.

You may also want to look further into how the author is using descriptions of landscape and nature to describe how Lois is missing her friend and how everything in her pictures reminds her of Lucy. Lois definitely feels guilt about what happened back then, which is why she can't stop herself from being reminded of Lucy even after all those years.

In terms of themes, it is important to say that the main theme within this short story is the theme of loss. Lois lost Lucy back in her youth; since then, she has also lost her husband, and her children have moved away. Therefore, your passage could be seen as an example that supports the theme of loss within the story. This might even make an interesting thesis for you to use.

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