Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8546-9064 Fakhrshafaie Nahid

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1288-589X Bahremand Alireza


Margaret Atwood’s novels are usually celebrated for their blunt feminism. However, in Moral Disorder—a series of interconnected stories that forms a novel—feminist concerns are replaced with worries about territory and survival. The protagonist is an insider whose sole concern is to survive and to protect her territory. The confrontation between the narrator as the insider and the outsiders does not occur directly but could be inferred by her cruelty toward other characters and her violence against the animals under her care. The present study argues that this cruelty, which abounds in the novel, could be viewed as a substitute for violence against the outsiders. The narrator’s gaze at the Indian boy who entered the protagonist’s territory manifests a garrison mentality. The frequent references to axes in the novel are compared to the use of axes in “Wilderness Tips,” a short story by Atwood in which axes also have a metaphoric significance. The beheading and dismemberment of domestic animals could be the punishment awaiting the intruder. The novel establishes a division between the insider/outsider, here/there, self/other and civilized/barbaric to call for action and awareness about the importance of protecting one’s territory.


caregiving, outsider, insider, garrison mentality, gaze, survival


Alter, Grit. Inter and Transcultural Learning in the Context of Canadian Young Adult Fiction. Lit Verlag, 2015. http://doi.org/10.1017/S026144481900003X

Atwood, Margaret. Moral Disorder. McClelland, 2006.

Atwood, Margaret. Second Words: Selected Critical Prose. Anansi, 1982.

Atwood, Margaret. Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Michigan UP, 1972.

Atwood, Margaret. Wilderness Tips. Anchor, 1991.

Bennett, Donna. “Criticism in English.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature, edited by William Toye, Oxford UP, 1983, pp. 149–66.

Bennett, Donna. “English Canada’s Postcolonial Complexities.” Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism, edited by Cynthia Sugars, Broadview, 2004. pp. 107–36.

Beran, Carol L. “Strangers Within the Gates: Margaret Atwood’s Wilderness Tips.” Margaret Atwood, edited by Harold Bloom, Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2009, pp. 67–79.

Black, Jason Edward. “Biting Back at the Empire: The Anti-Greyhound Racing Movement’s Decolonizing Rhetoric as a Countermand to the Dog-Racing Industry.” Arguments About Animal Ethics, edited by Greg Goodale and Jason Edward Black, Lexington, 2010, pp. 113–29.

Bowden, Peta. Caring: Gender-Sensitive Ethics. Routledge, 1996.

Brabeck, Mary. “Moral Judgement: Theory and Research on Differences between Males and Females.” An Ethic of Care: Feminist and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Mary Jeanne Larrabee, Routledge, 1993, pp. 33–49.

Cameron, Barry. “The Practice of the Craft: A Conversation with John Metcalf.” Queen’s Quarterly, vol. 82, no. 3, Autumn 1975, pp. 402–24.

Cavell, Richard. “An Ordered Absence: Defeatured Topologies in Canadian Literature.” Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities, edited by Justin D. Edwards and Douglas Ivison, Toronto UP, 2005, pp. 14–32. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442674059-003

Chidester, David. “Darwin’s Dogs: Animals, Animism and the Problem of Religion.” Secular Faith, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Elliot A. Ratzman, Cascade, 2011, pp. 76–101.

Cooke, Nathalie. Margaret Atwood: A Critical Companion. Greenwood, 2004.

De Falco, Amelia. Imagining Care: Responsibility, Dependency and Canadian Literature. Toronto UP, 2016. https://doi.org.1353/cli.2011.0023

De Falco, Amelia. “Moral Obligation, Disordered Care: The Ethics of Caregiving in Margaret Atwood’s Moral Disorder.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 52, no. 2, 2011, pp. 236–63. https://doi.org/10.1353/cli.2011.0023

Frye, Northrop. Northrop Frye on Canada. Volume 12. Edited by Jean O’Grady and David Staines. Toronto UP, 2003.

Goetsch, Paul. “Margaret Atwood: A Canadian Nationalist.” Margaret Atwood: Works and Impact, edited by Reingard M. Nischik, Anansi, 2002, pp. 166–79.

Halwani, Raja. Virtuous Liaisons: Care, Love, Sex and Virtue Ethics. Open Court, 2003. https://doi.org/10.1353/hyp.2003.0063

Howells, Coral Ann. “Rewriting Tradition: Literature, History and Changing Narratives in English Canada Since the 1970s.” Unruly Penelope and the Ghosts: Narratives of English Canada, edited by Eva Darias-Beautell, Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2012, pp. 19–43.

Huggan, Graham, and Helen Tiffin. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. Routledge, 2010. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203498170

Jones, Douglas Gordon. Butterfly on Rock: A Study of Themes and Images in Canadian Literature. Toronto UP, 1971. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781487571979

Jurak, Mirko. “Northrop Frye and Margaret Atwood: On National Identity in Canadian Literature.” Missions of Independence: A Literary Directory, edited by Gerhard Stilz, Rodopi, 2002, pp. 23–33.

Macpherson, Heidi Slettedhal. The Cambridge Introduction to Margaret Atwood. Cambridge UP, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511781018

Mann, Patricia S. Micro-Politics: Agency in a Post-feminist Era. Minnesota UP, 1994. https://doi.org/10.2307/2083090

Mathews, Robin. “Survival and the Struggle in Canadian Literature.” This Magazine Is About Schools, vol. VI, no. 4, 1972–73, pp. 109–24.

Mbembe, Achille. On the Postcolony. California UP, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520917538

McWilliams, Ellen. Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Ashgate, 2009. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315249735

Mount, Nick. Arrival: The Story of CanLit. Anansi, 2017.

Nibert, David Alan. Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism and Global Conflict. Colombia UP, 2013. http://doi.org/10.1086/679771

Nischik, Reingard M. Engendering Genre: The Works of Margaret Atwood. Ottawa UP, 2009.

Pell, Barbara. “National Place as Theological Space in Hugh Hood’s Novels.” Mapping the Sacred: Religion, Geography and Postcolonial Literatures, edited by Jamie S. Scott and Paul Simpson Housley, Rodopi, 2005, pp. 53–71.

Putnam, Walter. “The Colonial Animal.” Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies, edited by Margo De Mello, Columbia UP, 2012, pp. 81–84.

Tolan, Fiona. “Situating Canada: The Shifting Perspective of the Postcolonial Other in Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride.” Margaret Atwood, edited by Harold Bloom, Infobase, 2009, pp. 143–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/02722010509481379

Wadiwel, Dinesh. The War Against Animals. Brill Rodopi, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004300422

Walters Denyer, Taylor. Decolonizing Mission Partnerships: Evolving Collaboration between United Methodists in North Katanga and the United States of America. Pickwick, 2020.

Wilson, Sharon R. “Blindness and Survival in Margaret Atwood’s Major Novels.” The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood, edited by Coral Ann Howells, Cambridge UP, 2006, pp. 176–90. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521839661.013

Wrenn, Corey Lee. A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137434654

First Page


Last Page