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.

The Watermark

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Symbolic of the darkness and death that eats away at the Dead household, the watermark reminds Ruth of her father’s death, and is the product of having left her seaweed and driftwood centerpiece to rot and decay on the dining room table at the time of his death. The dining room table is often considered the symbolic center of the nuclear family, and the fact that this dining room table is permanently scarred seems to reflect the dysfunction of the Dead family perfectly. Not only is the table permanently maimed, but the watermark seems to continually grow, like a cancer. Though Ruth has applied many a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to the mahogany table in the hopes of making the watermark go away, she secretly likes the watermark. It reminds her and connects her to her father, and it is one of the few things in the house that is totally hers.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...