We use water to bless, baptize, cleanse, and purify.
Authors use a dunk under water to indicate a character’s spiritual change or spiritual rebirth!
A character might:
- dance in the rain, indicating joy at their new lease on life.
- jump in a lake/pond/river/ocean/pool of their own accord, signifying a determined effort to change.
- be pushed or dragged into a lake/pond/river/ocean/pool, which may indicate their unwillingness to change OR they emerge as BAD/EVIL–think the Joker in Batman who falls into the vat of acid.
- accidentally slip or trip into the water signifying a less purposeful change
Once immersed in water, the character can:
- grab some driftwood and float merrily along with the current. This might signify the character’s understanding and acceptance of his rebirth. In Fahrenheit 451, Montag jumps into a river to escape death, grabs some driftwood and floats toward a new life–I think there’s about 3-pgs of his thoughts while floating.
- almost drown.This might be the big slap-in-the-face-scene. It might serve as the character’s revelation; reveal guilt or failure; be thematic; or act as a plot device. In I Robot, the main character realizes the inhumanity of technology when the robot calculates the odds and saves him instead of the little girl. His a-ha moment.
- drown. Once again this might be a plot device, or a poignant too-late revelation for a character.
Other symbolic factors to consider:
- Is the water polluted?
- Does the character float on his back and gaze at the sky (symbolic of divinity or limitless possibilities)
- Does character struggle or get tangled in seaweed?
- is the character dragged down by their possessions?
- Is the water warm or cold or arctic?
- Does someone SAVE the character?
- Does character refuse to be saved?
- Does the character save himself?
- What is the body of water? The Ganges river or Red Sea might have a different meaning than a scummy pond or chlorinated swimming pool.
If character is baptized/reborn by rain, is it :
a summer shower
a hail storm
a torrential downfall
- a storm complete with divine thunder and lightning
of flood-like epic proportions ( symbolic slap in the face and allusion to the Bible)
Remember IRONY blows this all “out of the water!”
Have fun soaking your characters!