In “The Age of Lead” by Margaret Atwood, a TV show triggers a stream of consciousness in the main character, who begins recalling her relationship with a man named Vincent. As a result, the story has a backstory plot. Scenes shown on the TV and Jane’s memories are presented alternatively.




The short story begins by presenting the unusual excavation of the coffin of a man, hooking readers’ attention: “The man has been buried for a hundred and fifty years. They dug a hole in the frozen gravel, deep into the permafrost, and put him down there so the wolves couldn’t get to him.” (ll. 1-3)

As the exposition continues, the main character is introduced and we find out that she is watching a...



The rising action presents in parallel Jane’s memories about her relationship with Vincent and the images shown on the TV show.

First, we find out that in high school Jane went out with Vincent but they were never officially a couple. A conflict is suggested by Jane’s frustrations with her mother always warning her about the consequences of her actions: “None of what she called consequences. Consequences: babies and marriage, in that order. Jane herself had been a consequence.” (ll. 61-63)

A foreshadowing element is introduced when Jane reflects on how she and Vincent wanted a life without consequences: “…both wanted: freedom from the world of their mothers, the world of precautions, the world of burdens and fate. They wanted a life without consequences. Until recently, they’d managed it.” (ll. 96-98)



The falling action presents another scene from TV which offers an answer to John Torrington’s death. The scientists have discovered that the whole crew died of lead poisoning.


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