Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood Summary
Margaret Atwood’s Bodily Harm is the story of a lady Journalist Rennie, who writes prolifically articles for many magazines. The novel carries the back ground of saint Antoine and St. Agathe the Caribbean islands, on which the heroine, Rennie, spends most part of her life full of sex and freedom. Rennie is an amiable and fashionable young woman, who is praised by the man who makes sexual contacts with her. She is an open minded and has no objection in making physical contact with the man of her liking.
The sexual journey of Rennie starts with a coloured man called Jack, who frequently makes love with Rennie. However, their relationship is lasting and both of them are aware of this fact, Sex is the instinct that conjoins them and makes them live and love together. Jack is a robust man and quenches successfully the sexual fire of Rennie. Rennie needs regular and longer sex which is provided by jack to the fullest. This relationship based on sex not on love comes to an end all of a sudden when Rennie and Jack come to know that Rennie is suffering from cancer in her left breast.
Rennie is panicked and is at a last to understand how to overcome the disease. She feels that her days are numbered, so she decides to get operated as per the advice of the doctor, who tells her that her left breast will be removed permanently. Rennie is very perplexed and she is lost in her thoughts. She feels that her life will be very difficult as it is a narrowing experience to lead a life without an organ that a woman considers to be proud of.
Jack begins to maintain a distance with Rennie as she is no longer seductive and sexy for him. He develops relationship with another man who leaves Rennie alone to suffer the disease and she still recollects the sexual power of Jack in her imagination.
Rennie comes now in the contact of Dr. Daniel who operates her breast. Daniel gives her mental support and tells her that the least portion of her flesh will be cut off and there will be no danger of her life. Rennie remains worried about her physical charm or “Bodily Harm“. She receives consolation from Daniel who assures her that there will be no “bodily harm” to her and she will be able to lead a normal life. She starts loving Daniel. She is grateful to him and the love culminates in sex. Her sex with Daniel is not frequent but it happens once or twice because Daniel is married and he has more devotion to his profession than to romance. The over business of Daniel is taken as indifference by Rennie.
Daniel is also not so sexually powerful as Jack, so Rennie rejects and ends this relation. After the end of the relation, Rennie decides to concentrate towards her writing profession 80 she flies to St. Antonie. At St. Antonie she comes across Dr. Minow on the airplane. Dr. Minow is a vatenary doctor and specialist of disease of sheep. Rennie hires a room in the Hotel Sunset. The island is full of smugglers, dope-traders, petty politician C. I. A. and other spy agents.
Rennie is at her wit’s end to witness the anomaly on the island. She even does not know that she is constantly being watched by someone. At St. Antonie, she meets Paul who attracts her in the dining hall of a hotel. After a few exchange of words, both become friends and then the friendship soon results in sexual relationship. Paul is a man of dubious character. Rennie suspects him as a C. I A. agent. Paul is the man who is involved in several suspicious activities. Dr. Minnow uses Paul with Rennie and warns Rennie to remain aloof from Paul. He tells her that it is harmful for Rennie to continue relationship with Paul, who is primarily a politician.
Meanwhile, Rennie comes to meet Lora who is an alley of Paul. Rennie does not know that both have good and close relation with each other. From Lora, Rennie comes to know that her (Bhora’s) eighty years old grandmother, named Elvia, lives in St. Agathe, the island adjacent to St. Antoine. Lora wishes to look after her grand-mother and asks a favour from Rennie to bring a box of medicine of heart from the airport. Rennie brings the box in the good faith of Lora from the airport away for some work. But when she returns: she is enthralled to see the box opened. She is doubly flabbergasted, when she puts her hand into the box and finds a gun along with the medicines. To get rid of the box, Rennie goes to St. Agathe to hand it over to Elvia where she meets Lora along with Paul.
On St. Agathe, elections are going on. Three candidates are contesting whose names are Ellis, Prince of Peace and Minnow. Ellis who is in power, receives funds, from foreign nations to expand business in island. Prince of Peace is supported by Lora and Elvia along with some revolutionary like Mardson. However, Mardson supports both Prince of Peace and Dr. Mennow. Dr. Mennow has a lot of supporters who have promised to support him in the election. Paul is actually a supplier of guns to Mardson, who wishes to bring revolution to St. Agathe.
The elections are over now and Ellis is seen to be winner on seven seats, Dr. Mennow on six and The Prince on two seats. But eventually, Dr. Mennow wins and gets seven seats and is declared to be next Prime Minister of the country.
Soon, the radio announces that Dr. Mennow is shot dead and the name of the murderers is Paul. Now Mardson declares that the revolution is successful and the country has attained freedom. He appeals the neighboring nations to give recognition to the new government. But Ellis, real powerful man who defeats his enemies Mardson and Prince, who are finally killed and the revolution is also crushed along with the follower of the revolution. Paul advises Rennie to leave St. Agathe and take the first flight to Barbados (Canada) as early as possible. He even helps her to reach the St. Antonio where she is informed that the airport has shut down and all the flights have been canceled. Now, Rennie has no option but to remain confined within the wall of hotel. She tries to pass the sleepless night in the hotel but at night, the door of her room opens and the English women who serves at the counter of hotel comes along with two policemen. She is informed by the woman that she has been arrested on the ground of suspicion.
Now, Rennie is passing her days in the present cell with Lora. She hopes that she will be released very soon because the truth cannot be away. But unfortunately, the day never comes at the close of the novel.