Tuesday’s Teaching Memo:
You Fit Into Me by Margaret Atwood
You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye
In this short poem, Atwood addresses the brutal savagery of love, sex, and relationships. Using only two couplets, she is able to shift the mood and tone of the poem form love to brutality with the use of symbols. The first couplet highlights the act of sewing with the “hook” and the “eye,” implying that loves bonds, unites and brings two lovers together to “fit in” to one another. The image is that of sexual compatibility — they are meant for one another, the hook into an eye alludes to the penetration that consummates sexual desire between two people. All is good and lovely in the first two lines.
But then Atwood throws in a twist, shocking us away from feeling good and warm and fuzzy about love and relationships by introducing the violence of the second couplet. It’s a “fish hook” in “an open eye.” A fish hook is metallic, hard, cold, hooked at the tip so that it pierces the skin of its victim, puncturing it, causing it to bleed. And it is this hook that Atwood places in an eye — “an open eye” that perhaps does not expect or anticipate the violence, the brutality, the cold harshness of the hook as it penetrates its surface and ruptures it — this image causes us to cringe with pain and discomfort, making our own eyes shut with disdain and fear.
When we first fall in love, it is with open eyes; we are complicit in love, and we throw ourselves into it. We feel good and loved and comfortable and united with someone other than ourselves. We fit into each other; but this feeling departs and is eventually replaced by savagery, brutality, pain, and rejection. It all ends the same. At least, this is what Atwood claims in this poem that takes relationships from a place of unity to that of forced cruelty.
What do you think? Is this a fair representation of relationships?