Storytelling

Nearly every time the unnamed man and woman meet in The Blind Assassin narrative, they engage in storytelling about the planet Zycron and thereby create a reoccurring motif. The gradual evolution of their relationship is reflected in the stories they tell. At first, the man is the dominant storyteller, and he starts with what appears to be a clichéd and conventional pulp fiction story. However, he eventually begins to insert a surprising degree of emotional depth into his storytelling, and he also becomes more willing to incorporate suggestions and topics requested by the woman. Eventually, the woman actively takes over the story and contributes plot events. The motif of storytelling serves to convey the trajectory of their relationship, but it also reflects the fragility of their encounters. Because they are having a secret affair and the man is also a fugitive, the man and the woman can never have a public relationship or plan for a life together. They create a fantasy world together because they can never hope to build a real future.

Picnics

Two significant picnics occur in the novel: the Labor Day picnic where Laura and Iris first meet Alex, and the picnic which takes place after Iris and Alex run into each other again as they begin their affair. The motif of picnics reveals an opportunity for different social classes to come into contact with one another. Picnics were mostly an upper-class phenomenon because they involved leisure time, a desire for novelty and amusement, and the desire to show off by participating in a public social ritual. However, by eating in the open air and sitting on the ground, picnics actually involved mimicking some behaviors associated with the working classes. The motif of picnics reflects the way that Laura and Iris challenge some aspects of their class position while also remaining trapped within others. They broaden their horizons through their relationship with Alex, which begins at a picnic, but they cannot ultimately break free of the social position they were born into.

Photographs

The motif of photographs is used to further suspense in the novel and invite the reader to question whether appearances always match reality. Initially, readers are introduced to a scene from The Blind Assassin where the unnamed woman looks at a photo of herself with her lover and the hand of a third person. Readers later learn that the original photo featured Alex with both sisters, and Laura made them each a copy in which the other had been cropped out. As a result, it is unclear who the woman who actually went on to have an affair with Alex and write The Blind Assassin might be. More generally, the motif of photographs plays with ideas of memory and narratives about the past. Photos might seem like they capture reality objectively, but as Laura’s skills prove, they can be edited and altered. When Laura changes photographs by cropping them or adding colored tinting as a message to Iris about the threat Richard poses, she hints that there is always more to a situation than what seems visible on the surface.