Death by Landscape Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Feb 7th, 2019

“Death by Landscape” is a story which is centered on a moral understanding of the surrounding world and personal feelings. A person has great connection to the outside world, the nature and other people. Also, it is important to observe how a person views their past in relation to the present because whatever happened before, has led an individual to the way they are now.

This is the case with Lois and her “demons”. She must find an outlet which will provide some form of closure to her unwanted memories, and painting serves as a reliable instrument to help deal with inner emotions.

The main theme between the story and paintings is that life is a representation of all that people see. Pictures are meant to replace words, and this is done with great affect because visually, people are able to comprehend different types of understanding. The same can be seen in the story, as Lois has trouble putting her feelings into words.

The pain of guilt and regret make her unable to speak the words. Even if she wanted to say something, it would be impossible because Lucy is not returning, thus leaving Lois lost in the moment of the past. As Lois concentrates on painting her inner world and seeing how it reflects in her emotions, the story develops further. The mix of colors on the canvas represents the feelings that exist in Lois’ mind.

The trauma that she has experienced long ago, does not let her go and so, she must constantly return to that time and re-live it. The experience has been such a major part of her personality that she carries it with her always, and it makes her character unique because of this (Nischik, 2000).

Lois’ escape to a place where she can connect with Lucy is through her paintings. The landscapes can be seen as mental pictures of the episodes that took place in the past. Lois feels guilty and sorry that Lucy went missing, and that she has not done anything about it. The overwhelming sorrow has no place to go, except onto the paintings.

As a result, the paintings greatly reflect what she feels and sees as a necessary representation of the feelings towards Lucy. It is also aligned with her childhood where she was somewhat distanced from the rest of the world. She was living two lives which were visible only to her. When she grows up, the inner person emerges, and exists through paintings. Lois creates her own world where she can momentarily let go of all the frustration and focus on painting.

When she looks at the paintings, the two worlds become one, and she can almost see herself reuniting with Lucy. It is made out to be a real place where Lucy still exists, which gives Lois an ability to talk to her and explain her reasons. This serves as great change in Lois’ life because she can take a part of the pain and transform it into a deeper spiritual connection with the person she has lost (Werlock, 2009).

The story “Death by Landscape” is a great example of how the external world is connected with the person’s memories, and is a form of unity with other people. It is significant that people can deliver the inner workings of the soul into the environment and share emotions by visual representations.


Nischik, R. (2000). Margaret Atwood: Works and Impact. New York, NY: Camden House.

Werlock, A. (2009). Companion to Literature: Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.

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