From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Water Imagery

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Once you start looking, you'll see water imagery sprinkled all over this book:

  • Tommy's childhood fantasy that he was splish-splashing through water after making a football goal
  • The art gallery in Norfolk, which is filled with sea-themed paintings 
  • Ruth's dream that she was at Hailsham and the grounds were flooded
  • Tommy's image of two people in a river, trying to hold onto one another despite the strong current

Can you find any more watery moments? It seems to us that this water imagery can go in at least two different directions. On the one hand, Tommy's fantasy of splashing through water is a type of celebration. Hooray H2O! But on the other hand, when Tommy imagines two people trapped in a raging river, water seems much more dangerous.

Plus, then there's that stranded boat, stuck on the marsh with no water at all. While the presence of water can be both good and bad, what happens when the water goes missing? Well, for starters, things become pretty stagnant, at least for boats. And maybe that's just is. In many ways, water represents the ups and downs, and still times, too, that come with living, you know, a human life. Once you jump in that river, you can't help but ride it downstream, even if you do manage to get caught in a few eddies and pools along the way.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement