Margaret Atwood

The Edible Woman

Plot Summary

  Marian -- a recent grad from the U of T, single and working in market research
Main Characters

Ainsley -- her roommate, who wants to have a baby without getting married;
Len -- the "sperm-provider" Ainsley gets.
Clara and Joe -- a couple ridden with one baby after another
Office virgins --

Peter -- her boyfriend and a lawyer, later her fiance, with a passionate interest in guns and cameras ;
Duncan -- the man from the laundromat; the grad student she meets;
Trevor and Fischer -- Duncan's roommates, once his "parents"

Synopsis Set in 1960s Toronto, the novel follows Marian MacAlpin in her career and emotional life, switching between the first-person and third-person point-of-view. Marian seems to have a respectable job and happy relationship with her lawyer boyfriend. But everything goes wrong for her after she feels left out in a bar when Peter talks to Len about hunting. She starts to do things beyond her control, seeking refuge in Duncan while search for her "self" along the way.
Part One
-- Marian and Ainsely talking about a dentist party Ainsley went to the night before.
-- their her landlady (the lady from below) and her middle-class conservatism, insisting on "decency"
--Seymore Surveys--the market research company--Marian works for. p. 13
--the office virgins;
-- lexatives survey
-- Peter about Trigger's getting married, which for him is a betrayal; p. 22
-- Clara p. 24
--visit to Clara's, the babies and the mess;
-- Ainsley's intention of having a baby;
-- Marian's dream p. 42;
-- her interviews;
-- Marian with Peter, having sex in the bathtub as a way to comfort Peter
-- meeting Len and Ainsley, the latter plays the role of an innocent young girl
-- Peter talks about hunting;
-- Marian in tears, feels like being a stage prop
-- Marian running away, hiding under Len's bed, Peter's drunk driving
-- the next day, Peter makes his marriage proposal to Marian.
-- the next morning: Ainsley starts her plan of involving Len;
-- Peter visits Marian, deciding on the day for the wedding;
-- Marian goes to the laundromat, meeting "the man at the landromat" (Duncan) there;
--Duncan talks about the lives of grad. students pp. 100 -
-- Marian in her room, trying to organize her life, her room and the questionnaire, seeing her running and meeting the "man at the laudromat" as inexplicable blanks in her life.
Part Two
-- Marian at work, seeing the office workers as Armadillo ɦҨ; (info) in a zoo.
-- The office virgins: Emily, Millie & Lucy (117-18);
-- the Underwear Man, the hidden self of Peter?

-- Ainsley's plan is carried out in Marian's room;
-- Marian has to leave the aparatment; goes to the theatre and meets Duncan there.
-- the landlady shows her suspicion of Ainsley's having a man home.

-- visits Clara in the hospital;
-- Duncan calls Marian at work, asking her to help by providing some clothes for ironing;
-- Marian goes to Duncan's room, sees him iron, and then goes lie on his bed with him.
-- Marian meets Peter in a restaurant, sees him eat the steak, finds him "violent" and the steak "a hunk of muscle."
-- Marian drops meat from her diet (anything with "bone or tendon or fibre" p. 165
-- Len comes to talk with Marian about Ainsley's pregnancy; the latter's plan is revealed.
-- Len's childhood fear of egg is revealed.
-- Marian refuses to eat eggs. p. 173
the office Christmas party:
-- tomato juice taste test, a disaster;
-- a story of a woman refusing to wash herself;
--Marian observes the women around her pp. 179 -
-- meeting Duncan by chance

--Marian shops in a supermarket, prepares food for Peter, Clara and Jpe's visit;
--thinks about her body p. 193; refuses to eat carrot 194
-- Ainsley needs a "father" for her baby

-- Marian meets Duncan in the museum; M thinks about their using each other;
-- Duncan offers to have sex with her;
-- Marian invited to go to Duncan's apartment. (Discussion of food)
-- In Duncan's apt. with Trevor and Fish
-- Marian talks to Ainsley and Clara about her food rejection.
-- Marian rejects cakes pp. 227.
-- Marian goes to a beauty salon to get her hair done;
-- Ainsley talks with Len about marriage, fiercely rejected by the latter.
--Marian gets her friends to go to Peter's party;
-- Ainsley's confrontation with the landlady.
-- Marian goes to Peter's place;
-- Marian frightened by Peter's camera.

Peter's Party
-- The office virgins arrive, then Len, Clara and Joe, and then Ainsley.
-- Lucy's connection with Peter;
-- Duncan arrives with the other two, but he leaves right away.
-- the scene made by Ainsley and Len. pp. 264
-- Marian feels floating serenely in the party, but then she feels chilled imagining their later life. She then decides to go to the laundromat and join Duncan.

--joins Duncan in the laundromat and then they go to a sleazy hotel.

-- At breakfast, Marian cannot eat anything. p. 283She asks Duncan to stay with her longer.
-- They go together to a ravine, facing a cliff, where Duncan leaves her alone to go back to her life.

-- Marian makes a cake woman and then faces Peter.
Part Three
-- Marian busy cleaning the apartment when Duncan calls. She serves him with the last half of the cake woman. "Thank you," he said, "It was delicious." Marian watches with a sense of satisfaction.
, then, eggs, vegetables, even pumpkin seeds.