Theme Analysis: We Live In Water By Jess Walter

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In his short story collection We Live in Water, Jess Walter echoes the theme that people are products of their environment, despite any effort to escape the adversities that hold them back. This theme clearly appears in the opening story, “Anything Helps,” where a widowed and homeless man, Bit, tries to recover from the death of his wife by making amends with his estranged son. This devastating yet heartwarming story shows how one man goes to great lengths in an attempt to change his life. Walter also exposes the theme in the most prominent piece of the collection. The story “We Live in Water” provides a flashback and flash-forward structure by following Oren Dessens, a man who cheats on his wife and has conflict with the worst man in town and describing the journey of Michael, a lawyer returning to his hometown expecting to find his absent father, but instead, ends up learning more about himself…show more content…
With the exception of Oren, who does nothing to try to escape his bad habits, Bit and Michael both have the opportunity to change their ways at least once throughout the stories. In “Anything Helps” Bit desperately tries to reconnect with his son, who currently lives with a foster family, by saving money to buy him the new Harry Potter book. He does the opposite of what everyone else expects of him which results in a smaller glimmer of hope that he has the ability to become a better person. After Bit encounters a man willing to give him twenty dollars, and explaining to him that he wants to buy a book, the man doesn’t believe him and says, “No. Tell me exactly what you’re going to drink or smoke or whatever, and I’ll give you twenty.” Bit proceeds to tell him he will buy vodka instead, receives the money, and buys the Harry Potter book. This action reveals that Bit has the motivation to change, despite the opinions from
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