What are the recurrent motifs Atwood uses?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The persistent motifs in Edible Woman include:

Anxiety over commitment- Marian's eating disorder began after her boyfriend Peter proposed to her. This left her to believe that whatever was going to happen in her future was sealed with marriage, hence, ending her freedom.

Motherhood as an ultimate goal: Clara was a very bored, dull, and "barefoot and pregnant" time whose life as a woman ended with motherhood and multiple pregnancies.This gave Marian even more anxiety.

Females as  birthing machines: There was a preocupation with both of Marian's friends with pregnancy and motherhood or else their "roles" would not be accomplished in life.

Image: Twice Marian saw herself appear against her Will in full sexy woman regalia, going against her natural looks, only to please Peter.

Cliches: From the way they made love, to the way they celebrate Valentines, and down to the shape and color of the Valentine's cake, the relationship of Peter and Marian was nothing but the cliche. There was neutrality to it, just routine and expected behaviors.

Eating: Eating, the most important motif in the story, is allegorical to being consumed by society, by male dominance, and by fate. This is primarily the connection Marian made to eating meat. Eating will prevail as her primary fear: The fear of being consumed herself.