The Water Was Dark and It Went Forever Down - Analysis


The Water Was Dark and It Went Forever Down (‘Water’) is a story about a girl’s struggle to cope with her domestic anxieties, chiefly the effect her mother’s alcoholism has on her. It explores themes of survival, coping and existentialism.[1] With regard to discovery, the main themes explored are about self-actualisation and epiphany.


The beginning of the story introduces the few key problems resolved by the end. The main plot point is the mother’s problem with alcohol. However, it’s important to understand that alcohol here isn’t the problem, or rather, it isn’t the root problem. Alcohol seems a way of medicating or coping with her problems: her husband walking out on her and her daughter, the accident with the fire and the bitter depression that followed afterwards. This is an important point to understand as it allows a direct contrast with the daughter. Both suffer from the same sense of existential dread: what am I living for, who am I living for, what does living even mean? Construing the problem this way means there’s a parallelism of the mother and daughter coping with the same problem. If you interpret the problem as alcoholism such a comparison isn’t possible.

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