There are a few surprising elements of this poem, the most obvious of which being the volta, which twists the speaker’s story with the line, “(The photograph was taken / the day after I drowned” (Atwood 15-16). Here, the poem’s description of the emerging landscape is spun from picturesque to morbid in only two brief lines, providing a shock value to the reader through dramatic contrast. The second most prominent “surprise” that this poem delivers is how the speaker addresses this …show more content…
For example, the lines, “a thing that is like a branch” (Atwood 8) and, “what ought to be a gentle / slope. . .” (Atwood 11-12) link together in the reader’s mind to form a subtext of doubt while simultaneously creating definitive imagery of the photograph. Through this layered contradiction, Atwood provides the foundation for the relationship between uncertainty, perception, and reality, which becomes a resounding theme as the speaker later identifies themselves as “light” with the metaphor:
I am in the lake, in the center of the picture, just under the surface.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the effect of water on light is a distortion (Atwood 17-18, 22-23).
Through this comparison, the theme of uncertainty is fully conceptualized; the speaker is doubtful of our ability to see the purity of what they are through the interference of an outside force (which in this case, is water). However, the final stanza of the poem resolves this conflict with the ultimate promise of truth and