In Alistair MacLeod’s “The Boat,” the narrator is trying to come to terms with himself by confronting his past life with his present life. He is trying to decide of he has chosen the right career and lifestyle. His decision not to live by the ocean and to pursue the life of a fisherman was the right decision for him in the beginning. Although it was the right one for him at first, one can easily see why it does not turn out to be the best choice in the years to come. In this paper I will explore the reasons why he did not make the right decision to leave the ocean. These reasons are because of the unresolved grief over the loss of his father, the importance of family and tradition, and the guilt that he feels by his leaving.
The narrator has many unresolved feelings of grief over the loss of his father. He has not come to terms with the significance of his father’s passing. In the beginning of the story he is still having frequent early morning awakenings where he “imagine that my father is waiting for me in the room below the darkened stairs” (MacLeod 45). Although the narrator has made clear career and lifestyle choices far from the traditional world of his youth, he has not come to
When his father becomes ill, he drops out of school to help his mother get ready for the upcoming fishing season. In the last paragraph, he hears of the gruesome details of how his father died. He felt selfish and then tells his father that he "would remain with him as long as he lived and we would fish the sea together" (MacLeod 53). This could be what is causing the frequent memories of his past at the beginning of the story: It is not easy to know that your father was found on November twenty-eighth, ten miles to the north and wedged between two boulders at the base of the rock- strewn cliffs where he had been hurled and slammed so many times. She did not have an open mind and did not accept new ways. The narrator finds that he has "a very great love for my father" (MacLeod 53) as he "thought it was very much braver to spend a life doing what you really do not want rather than selfishly following forever your own dreams and inclinations" (MacLeod 53). terms with the loss of his father and therefore still feels unease in his life. It is hard for him to know that his "mother looks upon the sea with love and on you with bitterness" (MacLeod 54). A means of his coping with this grief is by telling a story that explores his relationship with his father and mother. His father on the other hand was completely opposite and he wished that his son would go to school so that he could increase his opportunities of employment. (MacLeod 54) The narrator is feeling conflicted about his abandonment of tradition and family. The unresolved conflict about his father"tms passing, leads him to wonder if his father"tms death was accidental or on purpose. She stated that it was a "waste of time" (MacLeod 48) to read books and she had not done so since high school. He rejects all that his mother understands and respects in life: order and history of a tradition embodied in honest hard work on the sea.