“Death by Landscape” was a short story written by Margaret Atwood. The story revolves around Lois, a widowed mother living in fear. Lois is a painter and is haunted by the wilderness. When she was a child she attended summer camp, and when she was a young teenager, her best friend Lucy disappeared into the wild while on an excursion with some of their friends. This memory never left Lois.
Lois’ fear of the wilderness causes her to create her own safe haven, where she closes herself off from society. The outside is her enemy, but her apartment is her oasis. She only experiences nature through her paintings and through a window in her apartment that overlooks Lake Ontario. Lois eventually becomes obsessed with Lucy and loses touch with reality, essentially forgetting her own past, obscuring factual memories in her mind.
In the end of the story, it appears as if Lois is destined to live in the false reality she has created for herself- her actions only further pushing her from reality. She continued to paint landscapes of the Canadian wilderness trying to recreate the scenes that reminded her of Lucy’s disappearance, but this only fueled the fire. Lois’ inability to let go of the past through her paintings of the wilderness and her fear of leaving her apartment keep her trapped in the past she is so desperately trying to escape.
Eventually however, Lois began to see Lucy in her paintings. This revelation was enough to quell Lois’ spirit and help her move past the incident in the wilderness that plagued her for so many years. Finally Lois found salvation.