Water and Literature


The story of The Flood in Genesis is used as a motif throughout literature. The motif of water deals with cleansing and rebirth. The story states that God caused a flood to rid the Earth of all of Humanities’ sins and evils.In




The Scarlett Letter, Hawthorne uses water to represent rebirth and cleansing. Pearl is seen playing by the stream in the woods in later scenes in the novel. This association between Pearl and water represents the washing away of Pearl’s evils and cleansing her of the sins of her parents.



In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck and Jim have witnessed awful sins on “Earth.” The issue of race and slavery is present throughout the text. Huck and Jim, a slave, escape from St. Petersburg and embark on a journey down the Mississippi. Throughout the story, Huck comes to great realizations about humanity and how corrupted humankind is especially about race. His interactions with Jim solidify this new belief on race. As the story goes and Huck and Jim spend time on the raft, humanity is cleansed to a point. Pap dies, Jim is freed, and Huck has a new understanding and appreciation for the relationship between races.9a47dbd0bfba84f66feb27c828b3972c.jpg

In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, water, also in the form of rain, represents cleansing. Gatsby was a human that needed to be cleansed from the Earth. He was found dead in his swimming pool and then it rained on his funeral day. This relationship between water and death represents the cleansing that occurred. Gatsby was involved in New York gangs, made his money illegally, and attempted to break up Daisy’s marriage. He was a man who was filled with sin. This sin was spread to others around him, specifically Nick, who got tied up in Gatsby’s plots. Nick was cleansed of Gatsby’s influence once he died and was able to continue life without conspiring with Gatsby.


Flood Picture

Pearl From Scarlett Letter Picture

Huck Finn Picture

Gatsby Picture




This entry was posted in Becoming an American Literary Critic, Biblical Allusions 2016, Honors English III. Bookmark the permalink.

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