A Theme Of Overcoming Obstacles In “The Year Of The Flood” By Margaret Atwood

Maturity sometimes comes with growth. Othertimes, it's struggles in life that teaches you who you are, regardless of what life throws at you. This indicates that many people get used to the struggles they faced, which would be seen as as a way of life because of its repetition. Therefore, struggling is not totally “avoidable” but some people have the perspective of how life and struggles are connected and that it’s the stuggles in life that makes them a better person. It’s believed that to achieve some success, one must learn and move on from their negative past experiences and hopefully teach others of overcoming obstacles. Therefore, in the novel “The Year of the Flood”, two different women named Toby and Ren have to adapt to new conditions and learn how to live in the new disaster world. Both manage to survive the disaster, which is often seen as the “Waterless Flood”. Such as the rest of mankind, they have to rely on nature, themselves, and the struggles they faced to survive in the new world. In addition to the book, on of the most complex character is Tabatha “Toby” whom is very knowledgeable, street smart, and is very respected within the Gardeners which is a religious “clan”. Because of her knowledge, it helped keep herself and many others alive before and after the Waterless Flood. In “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood, it explores the character of Toby’s strong growth, overcoming obstacles throughout the novel showing her change of identity, the rifle, and her parents’ death.

To begin with, Toby’s change of identity throughout the novel shows how she “blends” in with society/clan to survive and have a start to her new life without a conflict affecting her. Before the world came to an end, Toby lived a complicated life which would follow her as she changed her view on society and life. One of her many changes in identities started when she lost both her parents at a young age. Her mother had fallen ill when she was a child and died with a big amount of debt that Toby's father had taken out of two loans to pay. Toby's father lost his job while caring for his wife and committed suicide out of stress and depression. Then as an orphaned, Toby quit college and erased her identity to escape her family's debt. To continue, her traumatic past had caused her to be more aware of who she shares and opened up her emotions too, leaving the chance to have a relationship with someone else. As it states on page 11, “You can forget who you are if you’re alone too much.”, it indicates that her trauma had caused her to have a sense of negativity in her life which “swallow” the strength of her spirit and her right to interact and find different types of relationships with people. The feelings of isolation only helped her to further gain the belief of being independent. However, having the reminder that we are dearly loved and that having relationships with people is important.

In addition to Toby’s past, she gets emotionally attached to the rifle that that her dad killed himself with. The rifle is part of her past that she believes she should hold on to, to be able to get through her life especially after the flood. The rifle holds a very important moment in her life in which she realised that the only person she can truly relie on is herself. The second she knew about her father’s death, she never felt truly alone. As it states on page 27, “She couldn’t face what was in the garage. She lay in bed, skipping ahead in time. What to do? If she called the authorities – even a doctor or an ambulance – they’d find the bullet wound and then they’d demand the rifle, and Toby would be in trouble as the daughter of an admitted lawbreaker – one who’d owned a forbidden weapon” it indicates the moment why the rifle becomes an important figure of her past. To continue, Toby maintains her thinking even in the tragic scenario and realizes she must deal with her father’s death on her own. Throughout the novel, Toby doesn’t let the stress of such situations cloud her overall perspective as she still maintains her values all because of the reminder that the rifle gives her.

In conclusion, we see how Toby’s character has developed into the level-headed and mature adult she becomes surviving after the waterless flood. Also, her knowledge is what keeps herself and many others alive before and after the Waterless Flood. In “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood, the novel develops the character of Toby’s strong growth and overcoming obstacles showing her change of identity, the rifle, and her parents death. Throughout the flashbacks it showed her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood that teaches her to be independent and to be aware of people she brings in her life. 

09 March 2021
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