Reading into Resources

After listening to everyone’s presentations and reading “Where the Water Goes,” I began to realize that as a society, there is not a lot of awareness about where our water comes from and further, the issues involved with the extraction of water for everyday activities such as drinking, eating, bathing, and growing plants. While in many cultures, where clean freshwater is scarce, they have to be constantly aware of their water usage and must contemplate were they are getting their water from or when they are going to be able to get water next. This made me question the reasoning behind the lack of awareness of our water and the sources we take it from here in the U.S. Further, I began to question the importance of having an understanding of where our water comes from and how we can, and are, exploiting it. My question is should we put more effort into educating people on the scarcity of water and about the sources their water comes from? It seems like there is a lack of understanding that water is a depletable resource and in fact can both cause major crisis while simultaneously keeping us alive.

I think a major contributor to the lack of knowledge or thought that is put into the importance of water and where water comes from in the U.S is that clean water is constantly accessible. In fact, David Owen said himself, “All I knew was that every time I attached a hose to a spigot and turned it on, I could run it full force until it was time to go home,” and is so easy to access that our use of water becomes routine. While Owen was accessing the water to maintain the grounds of the property, he was contributing to the depletion of the water level in the Colorado River and Lake Mead without realizing. That depletion not only has future negative effects on the people in Colorado Springs, like Owen, but it also impacts every community that depends on the river and lake for their water usage, whether for agriculture or for basic household uses. Due to the fact that water depletion has a big impact on our entire population’s future survival, I believe that it is important to bring awareness to where we access our water and further, the implications of our everyday actions on the future of our water sources. This can be done through governmental regulations in which the government requires that we educate children in schools about the crisis we may face if we do not alter our actions. The government could also enact subsidies for farmers to transition their methods of farming through educating them about the impact their water usage can have for the future of our population’s survival.

Wicked Water

In the play “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein, we are introduced to a family who lives near the water in Staten Island, New York and they have just been affected by Hurricane Sandy  which has destroyed their entire community by the water. The whole family gets into a heated debate over whether they should stay and remodel their house by the water or if they should move because a hurricane like this will probably happen again in the future. Sal, the son of Marty and Mary, wants them to leave, while Marty is set on staying because this house and location by the water has sentimental value and Mary is stuck in the middle. It is because of the fact that they live by the water that they are having this debate in the first place. In the end, the couple decides to move somewhere new, but it is ironic because they want to live somewhere by the water still.

After reading this play, I began to question why Rothstein chose the title of this play to be “By the Water.” Why wouldn’t she choose a title that highlighted the destruction of the family and their community? This is when I realized that in every sentence I have written to summarize the play, I have mentioned the words “by the water.” In fact, the fact that Marty and Mary are located by the water is what dictates everything in the play. For example, because they live by the water, the water caused the destruction of their home, which in turn caused Sal to come back to help his parents which started the argument to move, which led Marty to reveal that he had put the house in Sal’s name which led to further blame and arguments in their family which led to Marty finally realizing it may be time to move, move to a place by the water of course. The use of this title in fact ends up highlighting the destruction of the family and their community because it is the water that causes all the destruction in this play in the first place. On a lighter note, being by the water is also the place that makes the family happy and, thus, is why they don’t want to move away from their home or to a place far from the water. If they hadn’t lived by the water, this play wouldn’t even exist because there would be no storm and thus no story to tell. Therefore this title is perfect for this play because it was entirely dictated “by water.”

Why Love?

After hearing the stories of Mami Wata and watching the films, The Little Mermaid, and The Shape of Water, I have noticed the common theme of love. First of all, the intro story in the documentary about Mami Wata is told by a male who has this romantic connection with what seems to be a vision of a woman from the sea (Mami Wata). He dreams about her and describes her as beautiful and even when he gets married, he finds Mami Wata more beautiful. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel falls in love with prince Eric and will do anything to be with him including risking her life in order to be a part of the human world. Lastly, in The Shape of Water, Elisa falls in love with the sea creature in the lab and risks her life to save him and have a romantic connection with him. In each of these stories, there is a love connection between the human world and the mermaid or god-like figure world. This makes me question why it is the case that love is a common theme throughout all these mermaid stories we have watched so far. Does this theme have something to do with the fact that mermaids are often portrayed as women?

Mermaids are more commonly portrayed as women who are often sexualized and thought of as objects of love and desire and thus, their status as god-like figures is for the sake of pleasing others. For example, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel is sexualized by her beautiful long hair, big blue eyes, and the purple and pink colors that she often wears. However, I think this common theme of love is due to more than the fact that mermaids are often portrayed as women. For example, In The Shape of Water, the mermaid creature is not a woman yet he is sexualized by his muscular physique and is an object of desire by Elisa. Due to the portrayal of the creature in this film, I would argue that mermaid creatures are portrayed more broadly as objects of desire. This portrayal could be symbolism for the fact that we desire the sea and want to know more about it. Not only that, but it was often men out on ships for long periods of time and to feel less lonely they may have created these stories in which mermaid creatures are sexualized to fulfill their feelings of desire.

Vivid Oppositions

In A.S Byatt’s short story, “Sea Story,” she carefully constructs vivid oppositions throughout. She discusses the contrasts between the sea and the land, “The land is ‘this green, gentle and most docile earth.’ The sea is violent, dangerous, inimical.” Along with this contrast, she discusses the contrast of beauty and destruction, “the bottle sidled between an ethereal shopping bag and a cracked shoehorn, was sucked down and spat up, its green sides glittering in the sun.” These contrasts are so vivid and stark that they make me wonder what Byatt’s intention may have been in using these oppositions throughout her story.


Similar to when one sees gold next to black; the black looks a whole lot darker and the gold looks a whole lot shinier and more beautiful than they each would alone, Byatt uses opposition as a theme in her short story to accentuate the prevalence of larger issues. In Byatt’s case, she is trying to show the horrors of the destruction and pollution of the ocean contrasted against the beauties of both love and the nature of the sea. For example, she uses the contrast of love and death to make the reader sympathize with the sea animals and force the audience to think about the issues that come with polluting the oceans. Often people think and persuade in a way in which their point is very one sided. This doesn’t allow for as strong of a reaction or response from the audience because it is harder to see the bad when the good isn’t presented. Byatt masters the use of presenting contrasting emotions when the “lovely,” “green perrier” bottle Howard sends into the ocean that was meant to bring love ends up causing death of birds, turtles, hagfish, and eels. Hopefully this contrast of emotions and thoughts will provoke the audience to make changes in their lives much like Laura and Howard did as they both die trying to study and clean up the seas that many people know and love.