Back to: CBSE Class 12th English Summary
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Water: The Deadly Realm
When the narrator (William Douglas) was ten years old, he decided to learn to swim. A pool at Y.M.C.A. taught how to swim, but his mother continually warned him about the drownings at Yakima river. He finally joined the pool. The narrator had a terrible experience with water in the past when he had nearly drowned at the California beach at the age of four.
A Confident Survivor
His visit to the pool revived his unpleasant experience. As he watched other boys swim with the help of water wings, he felt a little confident. He went early one day and sat on the side of the pool and wait for others to come as he was afraid to enter the water alone.
A young muscular boy came and jokingly tossed him into the water. The narrator was at the bottom of the pool. He decided to gather his strength and make a jump, but all he could grab was water. Those nine feet appeared like ninety to him. He swallowed too much water.
He came to the surface for a moment and again started to drown. He only saw dark water. He felt like being paralysed; only his heartbeat made him feel alive. His feet again touched the bottom, but this time he could not jump.
He felt like he was dying, suddenly he became unconscious. The next moment, the boy who threw him into the water was patting his back. He said that he was only joking. The narrator went home, frightened, dizzy and could eat that night.
The Haunting Experience
Years after that incident, whenever the narrator entered any water for any purpose, that terrible experience of the Y.M.C.A. pool would haunt him endlessly. The narrator went on many water adventures throughout his lifetime, be it trout fishing on the Deschutes and Metolius in Oregon or fishing for salmon on the Columbia, at Bumping Lake in the Cascades. However, that unpleasant experience ruined all his trips.
Counter-Attack of the Narrator
The narrator did everything possible to forgo that fear but all in vain. He finally decided to get an instructor and learn swimming. He joined a pool where the instructor would tie him up with a rope attached with an overhead pulley.
He practiced five days a week. Bit by bit, the narrator learned how to swim and finally shed that fear of water. He also learned how to use his legs for swimming. The instructor finally permitted him to swim.
The narrator was still a bit worried to swim alone. He went into the water, and a little wave of that fear returned, but he overcame that fear easily.
Conquering the Fear
The narrator was still not satisfied and went to Wentworth Lake in New Hampshire. He dived and swam two miles. Only when he was in the middle of the lake did that fear return, but he overcame it easily again.
He tried every swimming position like back-stroke, side-stroke. He once again swam the whole lake and conquered his fear of water. The narrator realized that “In death there is peace. There is terror only in the fear of death.” He felt released at last.