AP Literature/ P.3
“For Julia, in Deep Water” Essay
“You are learning…it is with our skill we live in what kills us.” Delivered through a father’s perspective, the poem “For Julia, in Deep Water” resembles a father’s serious and candid conversation with his daughter. Employing an allegory, and vivid imagery and symbolism, Julia’s father imparts coming-of-age wisdom that will be instrumental for Julia as she begins to navigate life without her parents.
Julia’s father introduces an allegory of Julia’s first swimming lesson to establish a focus on Julia’s challenging and frightening experiences. The father explains, “The instructor we hire because she does not love you.” The “instructor” easily represents any of Julia’s instructors but most importantly, Julia’s father reminds Julia that her instructor’s purpose is to expose her to new things so that she may learn and gain expertise. Julia’s father proceeds with “she leads you into the deep water…her open encouraging arms that never get nearer are merciless for your sake.” The father clearly references Julia’s swim lesson, however, this description could be used to describe Julia in any type of demanding situation. Julia’s father tries to tell Julia that regardless of what she thinks of her instructors, those instructors will continue to do what they are paid to do: impart knowledge by exposing Julia to different challenging things.
After explaining the important role Julia’s instructors will play in her experiences, the father utilizes imagery and symbolism to depict his and his wife’s role in Julia’s affairs. The father describes, “You will dream of this water always. Where nothing draws nearer, wasting your valuable breath.” The fact that Julia will always dream of the water she almost drowned in symbolizes that she will encounter testing experiences, like the swim lesson, all throughout her life. That imagery lends a hopeless and desolate tone that is amplified when...
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