But it also reveals a mechanism at work, in that the novel can be viewed as a series of cross-sections as well. (All these short chapters, often broken down within as well, rich scenes but with little tissue between them. This might be the Atwood novel that I read most quickly; I feel like I race through it, saying “just one more”.)
In contrast, there is a glimpse of grown-up Elaine’s view of the world; she, as an artist, has a different perspective. “The lamps in people’s houses cast a yellowish light, not cold and greenish but a buttery dim yellow with a tinge of brown. The colours of things in houses have darkness mixed into them: maroon, mushroom beige, a muted green, a dusty rose. These colours look a little dirty, like the squares in a paint box when you forget to rinse the brush.”
That’s interesting, when it comes to characterization. But there’s a structural side to this contrast as well. Consider the existence of these two perspectives, then-Elaine and now-Elaine, in this description of Elaine’s brother’s jar of marbles, which are the cat’s eyes of the title.
“He takes it down into the ravine somewhere, in under the wooden bridge, and buries it. Then he makes an elaborate treasure map of where it’s buried, puts it in another jar, and buries that one too. He tells me he’s done these things but he doesn’t say why, or where the jars are buried.”