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Written Expressions IV 1

Blind Assassin Analysis

Blind Assassin Analysis

Profesor: Agostina Valli

Subject: Written Expressions IV

Students: Agustina Cuayatto – Mariana Tamagno

Written Expressions IV 2
Blind Assassin Analysis

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin is a novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. It was first published
by McClelland and Stewart in 2000. Set in Canada, it is narrated from the present day,
referring to previous events that span the twentieth century.

The novel's protagonist, Iris Chase, and her sister Laura, grow up well-off but motherless in a
small town in Southern Ontario. As an old woman, Iris recalls the events and relationships of
her childhood, youth and middle age, including her unhappy marriage to Toronto
businessman Richard Griffen. The book includes a novel within a novel, a roman à clef
attributed to Laura but published by Iris. It is about Alex Thomas, a politically radical author of
pulp science fiction who has an ambiguous relationship with the sisters. That embedded story
itself contains a third tale, the eponymous Blind Assassin, a science fiction story told by Alex's
fictional counterpart to the second novel's protagonist, believed to be Laura's fictional

The novel takes the form of a gradual revelation illuminating both Iris's youth and her old age
before coming to the pivotal events of her and Laura's lives around the time of the Second
World War. Laura and Iris live in a house called Avilion. Their mother also dies at a young age
leaving Reenie, the caretaker, to take on full responsibility for the girls. As the novel unfolds,
and the novel-within-a-novel becomes ever more obviously inspired by real events, Iris, not
Laura, is revealed to be the novel-within-a-novel's true author and protagonist. Though the
novel-within-a-novel had long been believed to be inspired by Laura's romance with Alex, it is
revealed that The Blind Assassin was written by Iris based on her extramarital affair with Alex.
Iris later published the work in Laura's name after Laura committed suicide upon learning of
Alex's death in the war. Following the suicide, Iris realizes through her sister's journals that
Richard had been raping Laura for much of their marriage, blackmailing her to comply with
him by threatening to turn Alex in to the authorities. Iris takes her young daughter Aimee and
flees her home, threatening to reveal that Richard had impregnated Laura and forced an
abortion on her. This move estranges Iris from the last people who were supporting her, and
creates bitterness between her and the grown Aimee. Iris deceives Richard into believing that
Laura was the one having an affair with Alex Thomas, which drives him to commit suicide. The
Written Expressions IV 3
Blind Assassin Analysis

novel ends as Iris dies, leaving the truth to be discovered in her unpublished autobiography
that she leaves to her sole surviving granddaughter.

The book is set in the fictional Ontario town of Port Ticonderoga and in the Toronto of the
1930s and 1940s. It is a work of historical fiction with the major events of Canadian history
forming an important backdrop. Greater verisimilitude is given by a series of newspaper
articles commenting on events and on the novel's characters from a distance.