Forgiveness Through the Eyes of Water

Water symbolizes forgiveness of sin through cleansing. In the Bible, in order to have “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, our bodies [need to be] washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). This ideology is seen in the biblical story of Noah’s ark. God realizes that “the wickedness of humankind [is] great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and that the vast darkness in the hearts of his people can only be cleansed by water from the flood. Water represents a purging and forgiveness of sins. Even in the entertainment industry, water can be a symbol of forgiveness. Throughout the history of Hollywood romantic movies, the cliché scene of a character begging for forgiveness in the rain is commonly portrayed. The protagonist tends to realize their wrong doings, which in turn causes them to chase after their love interest. This can be seen in the movie Nobody’s Fool, when the main character realizes she took her partner for granted. She drives to his cabin and it coincidently begins to rain. She remains there, singing and dancing for him, which eventually prods him to open the door and let her in. The rain represents an element of forgiveness. It cleanses the wrong doings and become an apparent show of redemption. Similarly, in literature, images of water often symbolize freshness, purity, and rebirth, similar to forgiveness. Characters are attracted to water because after they sin, they seek forgiveness and have the desire to repent. However, in works like Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, the protagonist Edna drowns herself in order to free herself from the shackles of her life on Earth. In the work, Edna is “beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being.” However, no matter the extent she tries to free herself, she is not content with her life. Though it can be argued that suicide contradicts the idea of forgiveness from the Lord, Edna’s drowning can be read as a yearning for the qualities of baptism. Baptisms represent cleansing, forgiveness, and freedom from sin. Her drowning somewhat exemplifies these traits and unleashes her from the pain of her depression. She sought forgiveness in herself and in this drowning; she is at peace and finds what she is longing for. In addition to this, water in accordance to forgiveness is important in Judith Guest’s Ordinary People. The protagonist Conrad is in a sailing accident that is fatal to his brother Buck. After this scarring tragedy, Conrad is mentally engulfed by water in his everyday life. He seems to surround himself with the element as a plead for forgiveness from his late brother. He is weighed down by survivor’s guilt and continues to be a member of his school’s swim team as an ode to his brother. To Conrad, water is a bridge to repentance. However, in reality, it is the bridge between his emotional and physical well-being. Though the feeling of water forces the sailing incident into his mind, he continues to swim because he is unable to pull himself out of the mental ocean that threatens to swallow him due to the pressure he puts on himself and his self-perceived faults. In the book, water prompts Conrad to reflect and he divulges that “As water rushes over [him], memories flood [his] mind.” The element triggers his past, and though he believes that it is his only way to repentance, he finally quits the swim team. This release is just the beginning of his healing and it signifies the gradual release of his guilt. Here, water indicates forgiveness of sin through cleansing. In all, it signifies an abundance of motifs. However, in regards to forgiveness, water purifies and strips an individual of their sins. Its prevalent representation of new beginnings through absolution is encompassed in the Bible, the media, and in the examples from American literature. Water is strong force that has a powerful thematic hold on everything, no matter the dimension. 

Protagonist Begging for Forgiveness in the Rain
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1 Response to Forgiveness Through the Eyes of Water

  1. 20ara says:

    I like this blog post because of the examples you used to support how rain/water can symbolize forgiveness. The example you used in media, I think went perfectly with the theme you were discussing. Additionally, the video you included helps viewers to fully understand just how water represents forgiveness. I also think your analysis of Ordinary People and the role water played in Conrad’s life and forgiveness of himself is also well depicted.

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