Notes - Deep Water

Notes - Deep Water

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Deep Water


Chapter Summary


The Narrator Developed an

Aversion to Water at a Young Age

The narrator (Douglas) recalls a horrific incident that happened to him when he was ten or eleven years old. He had decided to learn swimming, and the YMCA pool gave him the opportunity, as it was safe. It was only two or three feet deep at the shallow end and, while it was nine feet deep at the other end, the drop was gradual. In comparison, the Yakima river was treacherous.

The narrator's mother continually warned him against it. She kept reminding him about the details of each drowning incident in the river.


The Misadventure

Douglas tried to learn swimming by imitating the other boys at the pool. He was just beginning to feel at ease in the water when a mishap occurred. He went to the pool one day and found that no one else was there. He was timid about going in alone. So, he sat on the side of the pool to wait for others.


Just then a big bully came. He was quite muscular. He picked up Douglas and threw him into the deep end of the pool. Douglas landed in a sitting position, swallowed water, and went at once to the bottom. Douglas planned a strategy to come out of it and safe himself. He tried it a few times but it didn't work. As a result, he was completely paralysed with fear. Then he fell unconscious. The next thing he remembers was lying on his stomach beside the pool, vomiting.


The Terror Destroyed Douglas' Social Life

After the incident at YMCA, Douglas feared water and avoided it whenever he could. Whenever he went near water, the terror that had seized him in the pool would return to haunt him. The fear paralysed him. This handicap stayed with him as years rolled by. It ruined his fishing trips and deprived him of the joy of canoeing, boating and swimming. He tried his best to overcome this fear, but it didn't let go of him. Finally, Douglas decided to get a swimming instructor. He went to a pool and practised five days a week, an hour each day. Piece by piece, bit by bit, the instructor built a swimmer out of Douglas.


Douglas' Will to Live Grew in Intensity

After the training was finished, Douglas wondered if he would be terror-stricken when he would be alone in the pool. He tried, and tiny vestiges of the old terror did return, but now he was not afraid. Douglas was still not satisfied. So, he went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire and swam two miles across the lake. When Douglas was in the middle of the lake, he put his face under and saw nothing but bottomless water. The old sensation came back to haunt him. But this time Douglas was strong. He swam on. Yet he had some residual doubts. At his first opportunity, he went to the Warm Lake. He swam to the other shore and back. He was thrilled with joy, as he had conquered his fear of water. The experience had a deep meaning for him.

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