The Significance of Water
I’d like to discuss the use of water in the text, besides the obvious fact that it is raining (on this day in May), and its many forms. The water in this text not only represents themes or personality traits within characters but it allows for a sense of mystery that is not answered within this first volume.
Xanther’s sections drop the most references regarding water, much more so than her clear wonderment at how many raindrops there are outside (maybe even inside?). Her question song is somewhat formed around the drops bombarding her and she finds herself unable to escape their impact, nor does she seem to want to. She lets them fall and becomes concerned when she thinks it becomes too much for others to handle. Also in regards to her questions, Xanther discusses the types of questions she asks, labeling them as dangerous or mild. When explaining what makes the dangerous questions distinguishable, she compares them to “holes in the ground. Or the water…. Like earthquakes and whirlpools. Like, what’s underneath just, you know, falls away? Like a [chasm]!” In this moment, water seems to be a dangerous factor in her questions/thoughts, rather than simply a point of mystery. The mention of a chasm however, brings her perceptiveness to things beyond her, as it is somewhat reminiscent of what happens later to Hopi. She also says that she is reminded, as someone who is worried that she is a “Fraidy K,” that she is “tougher than Mudd.” This is a double entendre, as her biological father’s last name was Mudd, and Xanther often compares herself to Dov’s braveness. Mud is clearly made of water and dirt, and as two key elements, is as persistent in our world as cockroaches. This perhaps foreshadows Xanther’s actions later on in the novel, as she courageously fights to save the kitten, though it gives her the same battle wounds as the terrifying seizures. The mud, though persistent, also acts as a point of shrouded understanding, as Xanther recalls that whenever Anwar explains his engine, she understands at the time but when she tries to remember later it becomes muddied. The water, while acting as a clarifier, can also hide many things.
For Astair, the water is a representation of her anxiety and her scattered thoughts. The first section with her in it portrays her going around the house thinking about her daughters, the big surprise, the recent death in their lives, the prank pulled by Mefisto, and the results of her paper, all while looking for leaks that are letting water in. As scattered as her thoughts are, so are each set of drops coming from each leak in the roof.
Hopi and Luther’s interaction with water is clear yet raises even more questions about what powers Hopi possesses and what higher power is out there that could allow for such an event. The presence of the water is made possible by the rain that day and offers yet another avenue to the characters in the book, leading them to inexplicable events that alter and even end their lives.
Less clear and only really implicated, moisture/water plays a part in Oz’s discovery of VEM. The window, though not exclusively damp, was moist from the rain outside and made VEM visible. Before it is wiped away, it becomes an important turning point and would not have been made possible without the water.