By: Kumaran, Gursewak, and Nash Touching bottomby: karistrutt • Find it on Imprint 12 : - Pg.124
analyzes deep insight into text requires "below the surface" thinking Works to understand the fundamental structure and to make connections between texts structualist criticism
Who is the protagonist? Antagonist? How can you characterize her/him? Trace the rising and falling action of the plot. What is the theme(s)? How is X employed as a symbol, a literary device? Examine the development of stylistic elements: image patterns, dramatic irony etc. Questions to ask!
Narrator - the woman • A female swimmer • Born in urban Canada • Struggles through out the story to overcome her fears about water protagonist
The husband • Middle aged • Potbelly • Perverted • Womanizer • Selfish antagonist “Ian was my husband’s son from a previous marriage”(126)
“The summer Ian was born, I got a new CCM bicycle and I built a tree fort with my friend Elaine.” (3rd paragraph on Page 126) “Her bikini had a pattern of teddy bears on it.” (Midsection of Page 130) “Dad’s busy right now” (Page 130)
Only character that is given a name in the story • The step-son of the narrator • He is only a child when the major events take place • Through out the story, grew a motherly affection towards the narrator • “I watched the distance between us grow until he screamed. “Mom, help.”” (Second Last Paragraph, Page 128) Ian
The narrator’s father • Minor character in the story • shows us the male influence in the narrator’s life • Tries to teach his daughter the harsh realities of life, and tries to protect her. dad
“fat girl” Life guard Elaine Sister-in-law others Other minor characters
As the narrator approaches the beach, it builds tension and the action takes off • The height of action or climax is when they are caught in the currents • she begins to realize the true nature of her husband and her fears • She begins to think clearly Rising action
The plot slowly starts to calm down as the narrator and Ian find safety on the beach shore Story concludes with the narrator completely overcoming her fear of “murky” waters and not being able to see the bottom Story follows a wave pattern in the action that is pursued Falling action
The most influential character is the protagonist’s father There is no mother mentioned But the protagonist has a motherly quality when she is trying to get back to shore with Ian The protagonist's Father compared to Ian’s Father Mother and Father
Father and daughter- The protagonist's father and herself Mother and son- The protagonist’s and the step child Ian Father and son- The Husband and his son Ian Relationships in the story
“I was afraid, but I ducked my head into the half-full white tub,”(Beginning of Page 124) “He wrapped me in a clean yellow towel, and the fear, what was left of it, evaporated.” “I sat on the dock watching a black bloodsucker make its way across a yellow plastic bowl lodged in the sandy bottom near shore”
This reference is made at the beginning of the story during the swimming camp and the protagonist has a traumatic experience She cannot swim where she cannot see the bottom Despite her fear of murky water she gets married to an older man against her fathers wishes Murky water full of leeches
In a sense the marriage is like murky water The husband is the leech He rather watch young women playing volleyball instead of spending time with his wife and son Even when his wife and son make it out of a near death experience, he tells his son “He is busy”. Murky water full of leeches
This short story might be related to the author herself or it may have happened to someone she knows Another interesting fact about this short story is that the son is only given a name It is written in the past tense and the protagonist is the narrator Connections and interesting motives
Swimming was used as a unifying device • The phrase ‘touching bottom’ usually has a positive connotation. • When related to swimming, touching the bottom makes the swimmer feel like the surface isn’t too far away. • In the story, when the narrator touched the bottom, it made her fight harder and it eventually made her save her life.
The color yellow is very prominent in this story as it acts as a symbol of comfort when in fear • It is a key image pattern in the story as the main protagonist uses yellow as a subsidiary to make her feel better. • Furthermore by the end of the book, the incident at the beach has caused her to stop using her yellow towel signifying a level of comfort with herself after a near death experience with Ian • E.g.. Yellow towel • Macaroni and cheese • Yellow sun • Pale yellow hair of volleyball player The color yellow
There is also dramatic irony in the fact that the husband does not know that his wife can see him with the volleyball player, while the audience does. This builds up the significance of the male figure in the story as she left her Father for a man who she can no longer trust and eventually divorces.
Foreshadowing is also present in the story through the Father when it says, “My Dad told me not to go, not to marry him. He said I would be sorry” (125) He happens to be right as the she finds out about how disrespectful her husband is and how he almost cost her and Ian’s life.