Pool Scenes in "The Graduate"

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Pool Scenes in The Graduate

At first glance it may seem that the swimming pool in Ben's backyard is no more than an insignificant setting-choice for the movie. After close examination, however, the pool fills a critical role as the symbol of the recent college-graduate's internal struggle with decisions regarding his future. Key scenes involving the swimming pool and the related aquarium in Ben's room chronicle the evolution of his transition from adolescents into adulthood. The opening scene of the movie in which Ben's face is visible through the glass of his aquarium tank demonstrates his role as an adolescent upon arriving home from college. This is, however, only recognizable in a later scene taking place at the party his parents throw for him that evening. As Ben weaves through his parents friends, all questioning his future plans and giving un-solicited advice, he finds sanctuary in his childhood bedroom--finding an escape from the questions he can not answer. Looking down from his bedroom window, Ben stares at the lit-up swimming pool in his backyard. This scene introduces the pool as a significant element as well as a contrast to the aquarium, which is protected under the roof of his parents' home. In addition to the location of the pool outside as opposed to the aquarium in his room, the swimming pool is significantly larger and more exposed to external forces. This parallels Ben's view of adulthood as frightening and un-controllable. Seeking the safety and familiarity of his childhood, Ben remains in his bedroom--with his aquarium. While hiding out in his bedroom, Ben receives a visitor named Mrs. Robinson—a friend of his parents. This woman, the same age as his mother, becomes the catalyst for Ben's eventual transition into adulthood. The first evidence of this is after Mrs. Robinson requests a ride home from Ben; she tosses her car keys to him but instead of landing in Ben's hands, the keys fall into his fish aquarium. The emphasis of this action...
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