Dick's Acquisition of History in Waterland

David Stevenson '96, EL 32

In Waterland, Dick lives most of his life in the Here-and-Now, never bothering with history. In the course of the novel, however, he obtains a history, and begins to understand the importance the past holds on the present. What makes him understand? Real events now stick to his Teflon brain: Where he could readily forget things which happened to him, he cannot forget things which he instigated himself. His actions are the primer for the explosion of the past in his brain. The following passage details his sudden immersion in the deep waters of history and what it is that sinks him into it.

Something has got hold of him. Something as inescapable and inexplicable as the sudden grip of love. His face is aquiver with un-Dick-like importunacy. He wants releasing. He's got a key in his hand. For the first time in his life, the forgetful flux of Dick's experience has congealed around him into imprisoning solidity. He's as fixed as that pike on the wall. He's made things happen; things have happened because of him. He can't understand. He's stuck in the past. (p. 318)

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