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Light Is Like Water Discussion, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1019

Essay

Last Name 1

The story “Light Is like Water” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez contrasts the perspectives of adults with that of children, and conveys the message that when children are spoken to in a way that is less than truthful and more metaphoric, they are bound to misunderstand. When the father–the narrator in the story–tells his son that light is like water, that “when you open the tap, out it comes,” Toto takes this literally and the result is a tragic ending in which all the fourth-graders from his class drown.

This story incorporates magical realism and irony as techniques that create a tone of impending doom, as the parents consistently miss cues that might have helped them understand what was occurring while they were away, finding their own escapes through film.

Reality is in conflict with appearances throughout this story: when the light bulb is broken, water flows out of it; the boat is able to sail around a presumably normal-size house through the flow of light; the father mistakes the boys’ request for only a party rather than more equipment as a sign of their maturity, instead of understanding that their request hints at another agenda that ultimately results in catastrophe. The parents’ sense of reality is completely distorted, as they have no idea about what their children are engaging in.

 

Last Name 2

The parents in this story are completely aware of the limitations of the physical world; they realize that the rowboat is too large and too heavy to fit into the house, and the mother is reluctant to incur debt on the basis of making a purchase for pleasure. The children, however, have the ability to dream and imagine, as well as putting their plans into action as when they and their classmates drag the boat out of the garage, upstairs and into the house. Essentially, they have challenged their parents’ pragmatism and used their creative abilities to succeed in realizing their dreams. The parents significantly underestimate or are unaware of their children’s’ absolute determination to fulfill their fantasies.

In addition, the children are able to suspend reality, believing that they are able to sail the boat on light, and indeed in the magical tale told here, they actually achieve their fantasy. In addition, the children have the discipline to pursue their dreams when they improve their grades in order to persuade their parents to purchase the vessel and later on, the scuba equipment. These parts of the story required the suspension of reality, and the boys are actually sailing on light as if it was water, and diving into the light to use their diving equipment. These actions require the reader to put aside reality along with the boys and join them in their fantasy. While their parents are entering their own fantasies through movies, their children are at home, indulging in their wild adventures; the parents’ dissonance with reality allows them to witness their children sleeping, “asleep like angels on dry land.” Rather than having any ideas about the events occurring in their own home while they are away, they are completely naïve and unaware of the

 

 

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strength of their children’s imaginative fantasies come to life. The boys’ fantasy life only grows stronger, and they invite the entire fourth-grade class to participate in their escapades in the rowboat traveling on the light as if it was water.

Again, the boys are sorely out of touch with reality when they flood the room with too much light/water, resulting in the drowning of all the children surrounded by the adults’ possessions bobbing around them. In another juxtaposition of reality with fantasy, people walking past the building witness the flooding of lights, falling in “torrents” as if the light indeed was water, and flowing down the “great Avenue”, lighting up the city before reaching “the river.” In this section, the metaphor of light being water is experienced by not only the children, but the eyewitnesses as well. In addition, after the fire department is notified and arrive on the scene, they witness the light that floods the entire house with the appliances and other household objects floating in the “vast illuminated swamp.” Indeed, the only creatures that were happy with this situation were the goldfish, who were freed from their bowl and floating in the metaphoric water.

It is this scene, which is presented in a dreamlike vision, that is both surreal and gruesome: the children are all dead, frozen into the positions that they last held before the great “flood” of light/water kills them; again, reality is suspended because the truth is that excessive lighting does not cause drowning the way water would. In addition, those same children are

 

 

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engaging in activities of which all of their parents would disapprove, such as urinating and drinking brandy. Yet this is the scene that the parents come upon, their children and so many others drowned in a city that was “without sea or river”; Marquez’ use of irony here is sad and horrific. If the story leaves one with a message, it would be this: parents are sadly mistaken to ignore or underestimate their children’s drive and imaginations. These children had become masters of knowing what to say and do in order to accomplish their goals; the father’s casual remark that “light is like water” did not take into account that children are impressionable and tend to believe their parents. This distorted belief led to the series of events which resulted in tragedy, not only for these parents, but for those of all of the children in the boys’ fourth grade class.

This story used interesting literary devices such as irony and magical realism to describe a situation that was imaginative as well as ultimately tragic. For people who have no problem engaging in literary fantasy, this story is fascinating; for those who are not fans of suspending reality in literature, it will fall flat. In either case, however, there is a strong message about parents not paying enough attention to the wishes and dreams of their children, and, as in this story, they overlook or ignore them at their own peril.

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