Rebirth through Water

Unknown-1Water as a purifier is used throughout literature to represent a character’s transformation and self discovery.  Foster uses water in baptism to “symbolize death and the rebirth as a new individual” (Foster). Water represents a turning point in the story where a character is faced with a choice. They can submerge themselves into the water and be transformed, or they can turn away from change and continue on as they are. This choice and motif is represented throughout many eras of literature. The Scarlet Letter, representing romanticism, uses water to emphasis Pearl’s rejection of being changed. Pearl discovers a pool of water in the woods; she plays around it, but refuses to go in. Pearl here represents a character’s choice to refuse change. She as a character is content with who she is and does not see the need to enter the water and be transformed. The Awakening, a realist novel, uses the water motif to create rebirth. Edna finds herself swimming in the sea. Here in the water, she realizes she no longer wants to be married or tied down; she wants to be reborn. Lastly, the water motif is represented in modernism. In The Sun Also Rises, Jake comes to self realization and gains strength in the water. In San Sebastian, as he swims he starts to heal from the horror that the war left him with. Water in any literature represents a choice to transform or come into a self realization. Some like Pearl turn from this change, others like Edna embrace it whole heartily, while others still like Jack use small amounts of change to strengthen their own already developed character. The water motif in literature strengthens, purifies, and transforms a character, but each character must make the choice to choose it allowing for the change to take place.


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