The Wanderer

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Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
The Passage of Time  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
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Throughout the book, Sophie’s accounts of her past—who her real parents are, how she came to hear Bompie’s stories—contrast with the crew’s views of her. Sophie is already quite the dreamer by heart, but she also seems to make up a lot about her past—she always finds ways to avoid answering questions about who her “real” parents were, and what happened to them.

For instance, whenever Brian or Cody bring up or ask about Sophie’s past—such as who her “real” parents were—she either avoids answering altogether, or starts to tell a story about a “little kid” whose parents left her to go to heaven. It seems that Sophie has deliberately forgotten about her past—the death of her parents—in order to feel as if her foster parents were her real ones, to feel like an original member of her new family, and to shield herself from the pain of remembering her parents’ death. Whenever Sophie talks about the “little kid,” she’s talking about herself in the third-person—this shows how deeply ingrained Sophie’s way of forgetting her past is in her mind. The difference between dreaming and the real world is therefore a bit blurred for Sophie. She lives in a dream to a large extent, believing that she was born into her foster family, having wanted to forget the pain of her original parents’ tragic accident. Her dream protects her from feeling sadness and pain.

At the end of the book, we find out that Sophie adds something to Bompie’s stories (which he had written about in his letters to her) whenever she retells them: Bompie always encounters or falls into a body of water and struggles in it. Yet when Sophie finally meets Bompie and retells all his stories to him, after each story he says that he doesn’t recall the part about struggling in the water. Finally, Sophie tells him a story that he doesn’t remember at all: when he went on a sailing trip with his parents, who were swept away and drowned by a big wave. He says he doesn’t remember that story, and Bompie and Cody conclude that, in fact, the story is Sophie’s—the tragic accident of her parents’ death, a memory from her past which she’s blocked from her mind. Sophie was really the one who had suffered in the water. When she hears this, she bursts into tears.

Beyond the idea of dreaming as fantasy or repression, literal dreams also play a prominent role in The Wanderer. Sophie is haunted by a recurring dream in which a giant wave (“The Wave”) towers over her and threatens to crash upon her—but she always wakes up just before it does. Sharon Creech also blends the distinction between dream and reality in Sophie’s mind by having her call the nearly fatal wave that crashes upon The Wanderer in real life by the same, capitalized name (“The Wave”). In this way, it’s as if, for Sophie, the same wave in her dreams has happened in her real, waking life.

The Wanderer, therefore, mainly explores the division between dreaming and the real world through the way the division works in Sophie’s own mind. She has in many ways created her own dream world and lost touch with the real one, trying to forget about her painful past.

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Dreaming vs. The Real World ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Dreaming vs. The Real World appears in each Chapter of The Wanderer. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Dreaming vs. The Real World Quotes in The Wanderer

Below you will find the important quotes in The Wanderer related to the theme of Dreaming vs. The Real World.
I. Preparations Quotes

And what I wanted to do was go on and on, across the sea, alone with the water and the wind and the birds, but some said I was too young and the sea was a dangerous temptress, and at night I dreamed a terrible dream. A wall of water, towering, black, crept up behind me and hovered over me and then down, down it came, but always I awoke before the water covered me, and always I felt as if I were floating when I woke up.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Open Ocean
Page Number: 1-2
Explanation and Analysis:

Written in her first journal entry, this quote by Sophie highlights the “push-pull” dynamic which characterizes her relationship with water. On the one hand, Sophie is mysteriously pulled towards and called by the sea—it seems like Sophie’s had this attraction to the water ever since she was very little. Yet on the other hand, a nightmarish vision of a towering wave—threatening to crush her and sweep her away—haunts her dreams, suggesting that there’s something deep down in Sophie’s mind that pushes her away from the water: a deep-seated fear of the ocean which expresses itself in her dreams. While Sophie begins the novel always waking up from the dream just in time to escape the clutches of the wave, later in the novel, after she encounters a similar wave in real life, she ends up always getting swept far, far away.

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II. Shakedown Quotes

Sophie talks about my aunt and uncle as if they are her real parents, even though they are only her adopted parents and she’s only been with them three years. Brian says Sophie lives in a dream world, but I think it’s kind of neat that she does that. At least she isn’t sitting around moping about being an orphan.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Brian
Page Number: 23-24
Explanation and Analysis:

Written in his first journal entry, Cody here tells us something important that Sophie has left out of her journal entries so far—the parents she’s been telling us about are actually her adoptive parents. As we find out later in the book, Sophie has largely blocked out all of her memories of her biological parents from her conscious mind, as if something deep inside of her psyche wants to erase her past and start life over from scratch. While Brian thinks that the world Sophie has invented for herself is too dreamlike and irrational, Cody seems to be constantly fascinated by it.

We are barely under way with our journey, and already everything seems more fluid and relaxed. . . . I’m ready to get out on the open ocean, though. I want to be moving, to be sailing, where it doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, where time is all connected.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this while she and the rest of the crew are docked on Block Island. Though she excitedly awaits getting back out onto the open ocean to experience its vastness and interconnectedness, Sophie already feels that her brief time on the water so far has affected her view of the world. The environment around her already feels more fluid and interconnected—not divided into ordered moments or events—which resembles her ideas of how life far out at sea might be. Thinking of the ocean as a place where all time is connected—where all of time is just one giant, eternal moment—Sophie clearly wants to escape the ordinary way of thinking which she associates with living on land.

Out here, there isn’t day and night and then a new day. Instead, there are degrees of light and dark, merging and changing. It’s like one long stream of time unfolding in front of you, all around you. There isn’t really a yesterday or a day before, which is weird, because then what is tomorrow? And what is last week or last year? And if there is no yesterday or last year—or ten years ago—then it must all be now, one huge big present thing.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 46-47
Explanation and Analysis:

Finally out on the open ocean, sailing on to Gran Manan from Martha’s Vineyard, what Sophie anticipated about the ocean—that out on it, all of time is connected—is coming true, and affecting her sense of passing time and life itself. Faced with a vast body of water expanding out onto a seemingly endless horizon, the sense of past-to-present-to-future is eroding for Sophie. The word “day” seems meaningless, as if the vastness Sophie is experiencing cannot possibly be measured by our conventional, rigid ways of ordering time. If the days can all blur together like this, and the word “tomorrow” is just a concept that humans make up in their minds, then, Sophie thinks, time must really just be “one huge big present thing.”

V. Wind and Waves Quotes

Last night I dreamed about Sophie, and this morning I asked Uncle Dock if Sophie knew what had happened to her parents. He said, “At some level, Sophie must know. But consciously? That’s something only Sophie can answer.”

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Dock
Page Number: 178-179
Explanation and Analysis:

Cody writes this while The Wanderer is sailing from Gran Manan towards England, before the ship encounters the nearly-fatal storm.

Dock’s response makes a crucial point about Sophie’s psyche. At some level, deep down in her mind, she must still have memories of her parents and their deaths. But at the conscious level—at the level of her everyday awareness—Sophie doesn’t seem to remember. Sophie’s mind is therefore split in two. At the level of her conscious thoughts, she lives in something of a dream world, imagining her adoptive parents to be her real ones, having no apparent recollection of her past life before them.

However, at a deeper level that Sophie isn’t aware of consciously, there must still be in her mind a knowledge of her past. This fact, that Sophie still remembers her true past in some form, is evidenced by the “little kid” she sometimes mentions. Often bringing up a story about the little kid whenever she’s asked about her (Sophie’s) past life, it seems that Sophie has projected the past she doesn’t want to remember—that is, her own—onto the fictional “little kid.”

I was going overboard; I was sure of it. Underwater forever, twisting and turning, scrunched in a little ball. Was this the ocean? Was I over the side and in the sea? Was I four years old? In my head, a child’s voice was screaming, “Mommy! Daddy!”

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Open Ocean
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this passage after a violent wave has hit The Wanderer in the nearly-fatal storm it encounters en route to England. Here she reflects on her experience of being swept up by it.

The most significant part of this passage is perhaps the child’s voice that Sophie hears. We can infer that the screaming she hears is actually her own—that the screaming is part of Sophie’s past, of Sophie’s memory of being with her parents when they died at sea. We can imagine that when she was swept away from her parents in that tragic accident, a very young Sophie would cry out for her mommy and daddy.

And now that Sophie has encountered another, similarly violent wave at sea, it makes sense that—in the moment of being swept away—the traumatic memory of her parent’s death (which she’s blocked out from her present awareness) would surge forth to her conscious mind. This newly experienced sensation of being swept away must have triggered her blocked-out memory of being swept from her parents as a small child—a memory which reappears in a particular form: the voice of a younger Sophie screaming. Of course, Sophie does not recognize this yet. She does not process what she hears in this way; she simply reports what she heard, and leaves it at that.

I feel as if there were things inside me that were safely tucked away, sort of like the bilge down there, hidden under the floorboards of The Wanderer. But it feels as if the boards were blown off by The Wave and things are floating around and I don’t know where to put them.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wave
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this shortly after the last quote, in the aftermath of the violent Wave.

The sense that Sophie’s mind is divided between things she blocks out from her conscious mind (her everyday awareness) and things of which she is aware is further highlighted here. Sophie has blocked out the pain of her past, and what she’s consciously aware of are largely things she dreams and makes up, and which are therefore false beliefs (like her belief that her adoptive parents are her original ones). She’s conscious only of what it pleases her to believe, what she wants to believe, blocking out the pain of her past.

The floorboards Sophie describes are like a line that separates the painful stuff she’s blocked-out from what she wants to believe is real. It’s the line that keeps what’s blocked out totally inaccessible by Sophie’s awareness. The violent wave, however, has ripped up those floorboards. Reminding Sophie of the traumatic accident which killed her parents, the violent wave brings up pieces of her blocked-out memory of the accident up through the broken “floorboards” of her psyche. Things which were “safely tucked away” and “hidden” are now “floating around” like confusing fragments in her conscious mind.

I am thinking about Bompie. At last I will see Bompie. Why am I scared?

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Bompie
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this in the aftermath of the violent Wave, as The Wanderer continues towards Bompie. Here, the conflicted dynamic which characterizes Sophie’s relationship with water once again appears. Finally, Bompie is starting to get within her reach; Sophie is honing-in on Bompie’s house in England, and after waiting and hoping for so long, she’s finally going to get to meet him. The possibility of meeting Bompie, which used to be just something Sophie would imagine, now seems like a real thing that will actually happen.

But, despite all the excitement and anticipation she’s had about meeting her grandfather, Sophie is suddenly scared about seeing Bompie. Why? Though Sophie is pulled towards Bompie, as she gets closer to him she feels a fear which pushes her away. Why the push?

Perhaps Sophie is starting to doubt whether meeting Bompie will mean all the things to her she’s imagined it would. She’s thought about meeting him for so long, and what it would be like—but what if Bompie’s nothing like she’s thought? What if her sense of a deeply special connection with him gets crushed when she meets him in the flesh? What if the reality is a disappointment in comparison to her imagination? Perhaps these thoughts are subtly pulsing in the back of Sophie’s mind.

There's a little kid. And the little kid doesn't know what is going on. The little kid is just cold or hungry or scared and wants Mommy and Daddy. And when other people tell the little kid that Mommy and Daddy have gone to heaven . . . the little kid feels bad and wonders why they didn't take their little kid with them . . .
And everywhere the little kid goes, people ask what the little kid remembers about the grown-ups, who have gone away to the beautiful place, but the little kid doesn’t want to remember that painful thing. . . . The little kid wants to be right here, right now . . . not back at those times the little kid got left behind.
But no matter what the little kid might want, something inside pushes the little kid ahead while something or someone pulls the little kid back.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Cody
Related Symbols: The Little Kid
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

Cody writes this in the aftermath of the nearly-fatal storm, as The Wanderer regains control of its course towards England. He’s recording the response Sophie gave when he asked her if she “remembered things from when she was little.”

Unsurprisingly (by this point in the book), Sophie, being asked about her past by Cody, starts talking about the little kid instead. The little kid, a fictional character onto which Sophie projects the truth of her own past in order to disconnect herself from it, wants so very much to be able to live in the present. Having gone through a very painful past of losing their parents, and then being, as we learn later on, chucked from place to place—from their grandpa’s (who died), to their aunt’s (who didn’t want the little kid), and then from foster home to foster home—the little kid has felt rejected and unwanted. The little kid even felt rejected by their own parents, wondering why they wouldn’t take their child to heaven with them. In order to get on with life and live happily, the little kid just wants to be able to look ahead, and not backwards at the pain of the past.

The “push-pull” dynamic at the core of Sophie’s psyche shines through here. Sophie (the little kid) feels pushed by her painful past into a better future, where she can live a happy, fulfilling life where she feels valued. Yet, at the same time, she feels pulled back by her painful past, for she can’t totally erase it, even though she tries.

In trying to get totally beyond her past by wholly forgetting it, Sophie, or the little kid, gets caught-up in this back-and-forth of being pushed and pulled. Perhaps if Sophie would try to reconcile herself with the past by remembering it and coming to terms with it—by recognizing the good parts about it—she could achieve a steadier state of mind. Cody, at the end of the book, tries to help her recognize this.

I could understand what he was saying, but I wondered if the same was true of children, that sometimes you can’t control things and sometimes you have to let go. Maybe you even have to let go of your parents. But then I was all muddled in my head and I couldn’t make sense of anything, not even where I was or why I was there.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Stew
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this in response to a moment she shared with Uncle Stew as The Wanderer nears the coast of Ireland. Uncle Stew was saying that when it comes to being a parent, sometimes you have to just let go of your children and pray that they’ll be okay—that, eventually, you have to let go of trying to control everything about your child’s life.

Sophie reverses Stew’s statement by considering that maybe children eventually have to let go of their parents. It seems significant that Sophie writes, in the very next sentence, that her head started to get “muddled.” It seems as if the thought that children have to let go of their parents has troubled her and unsettled her in some way.

This makes sense, though, for it’s precisely what Sophie has had (understandably) a very hard time doing—letting go of, or moving on from, her original parents. By trying to block their memory out of her mind, she hasn’t let go of them; rather, she’s simply buried them deeper into her psyche. The idea of letting go of one’s parents, then, confuses her, precisely because she hasn’t let go. To truly let go of her parents, she’d have to remember them, and thereby come to terms with their death in order to move on with her life.

And I keep thinking about the wave dream I used to have. What seems especially eerie is that the wave in all of those dreams was The Wave—exactly the same: the same height, the same shape. The only difference is that the wave in my dreams was black, and this one was white. . . .
I can’t get rid of the feeling that the waves of my dreams were all pointing to The Wave that got us on the ocean.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Open Ocean
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this in the aftermath of the nearly-fatal storm, as The Wanderer is on its final stretch to England. Perhaps the most significant element of this passage is Sophie’s connection of The Wave of her dreams with the violent wave she and the crew of The Wanderer faced at sea in real life. She says that the two are nearly identical in form, except for their color—and she feels that somehow the waves of her dreams were all leading to the wave at sea.

This last point is interesting, because it might explain two important things: one, why Sophie’s been having her nightmares about the wave, and two, one crucial motivation for her to embark on her trip over the ocean. We might say that Sophie desired to embark upon the ocean in order to master her fear of water, a fear represented by The Wave in her dreams. But why?

Well, if Sophie has blocked-out the memory of her parents’ death (when they died at sea in her company) from her conscious, everyday awareness, then The Wave nightmares might be a way for Sophie to relive, in her dream-world of sleep, that blocked-out memory in order to conquer it and strip it of its pain. If we accept this as the case, then the dreams in a way propelled Sophie to try and remember what she’d blocked out—to face and conquer her fear of water or The Wave, and therefore reconcile herself with her parents’ death.

If this is the purpose behind the dreams, then what does it tell us about Sophie’s motivation for embarking on the trip? When Sophie says that The Wave of her dreams pointed to the wave in real life, it suggests that she, on some mental level, desired to endure a trip over the ocean in order to face the fear that’s been the cause of her nightmarish dreams—to face the fear in real life. Sophie wanted to conquer her fear of the ocean on the ocean, to kill the fear once and for all—a fear caused by her parents’ death.

Everyone is talking about reaching Ireland, but I feel weird, as if we’re not really going to get there, or as if I’m not ready to be there. And what will happen with Sophie when we do reach Bompie? Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t want to get there. I’m afraid for Sophie.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

Cody writes this shortly after his previous quote. The crew is mostly recovered from the storm, and soon Cody and Sophie will spot land—the coast of Ireland.

Cody’s initial fascination with Sophie’s weirdness and mystique has now turned into a genuine concern for her mental health and well-being. He seems to know that there’s something peculiar about Sophie’s relationship with Bompie—but not in the way that Brian thinks their relationship is strange.

While Brian is downright infuriated by Sophie’s insistence that she knows Bompie, believing her to be making up everything she says, Cody doesn’t seem to doubt Sophie, at least entirely. Though he’s unsure about how she knows Bompie’s stories, he seems more concerned about how she will react to meeting Bompie—how her emotions will hold up—and not so much about whether she’s lying or not.

Cody seems to understand that Sophie has identified with Bompie in a powerful way, and, knowing Sophie’s capacity to dream her world, perhaps he’s worried that Sophie has thought Bompie is someone he’s not, that he means something to her imagination which he cannot uphold in the flesh. Cody is perhaps worried that Sophie will meet Bompie, have her illusions about him shattered, and be deeply saddened.

VI. Land Quotes

I reached across the bed and touched her hand. “Sophie,” I said. “Maybe that’s not Bompie’s story. Maybe that’s your story.”
Bompie whispered, “Sophie, he’s right. That’s your story, honey.”
Sophie stared at me and then at Bompie. She looked so scared and so little sitting there beside Bompie. And then she put her head down on Bompie’s chest and she cried and cried and cried.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Little Kid
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage, written by Cody when he and the crew have arrived at Bompie’s cottage, is arguably the climax of the entire book. Before this moment, Sophie has spent a good deal of time retelling Bompie’s stories to him. With each story, however, when Bompie becomes submerged in a body of water—whether it’s the new car story, the railway bridge story, the swimming story, or the ocean story—Sophie makes sure to emphasize the fact that Bompie really struggled and had a rough time in the water.

Yet each time Sophie gets to this part, Bompie says he doesn’t recognize it—he doesn’t remember ever struggling in the water that way. Finally, Sophie tells a story about when Bompie was out at sea with his parents and a giant wave came upon them. She then stutters, trying but unable to say that the wave drowned Bompie’s parents, and Cody finishes her sentence for her. Sophie then gasps in agreement with Cody, but Cody and Bompie say that Sophie is mixing her own story up with Bompie’s.

Sophie, therefore, is gently encouraged to accept the truth of her past, the truth of her own story. Until now, she’s blocked it out and transferred it onto other people, like the “little kid” and Bompie. Now, however, Sophie has to realize that all the time she’s spent idealizing Bompie has been largely due to the fact the she thought, on some mental level, that he shared her history and her traumatic past—even though she’d blocked it out.

Sophie is finally left alone with her own truth; she can no longer project it onto anyone else.

It was strange reading the ones about the car in the river, and leaping off the train tracks, and Bompie’s baptism, and Bompie in the swimming hole, and Bompie at the ocean. Most of what Sophie had told us was pretty much the way he had told it to her in his letters, except for the parts about struggling in the water. He was in the water all those times, but he hadn’t written about struggling in it.
Those parts had come from Sophie.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

Cody writes this shortly after the last quote, after Sophie has given him a notebook with the letters Bompie had written to her over a period of three years. Cody writes that Bompie’s first letter welcomed Sophie to her new, adoptive family, while each one after told her a story about his life.

This quote is important because it shows an evolution in Cody’s understanding of Sophie. He’s now not only certain that Sophie hasn’t (entirely) made up Bompie’s stories, but he’s also coming to see firsthand how Sophie’s traumatic past and fear of the water has influenced all her versions of Bompie’s stories—how her memories and fear of water, to a great extent, propelled her interest in Bompie’s stories.

Cody can now see that Sophie recited each story very closely to the way Bompie had written them, but also that Sophie added a part which she must have not realized she was actively adding. The parts about Bompie struggling in the water were what Sophie wanted to read in Bompie’s stories—she wanted to learn about and know someone who understood her own struggles with water.

Cody’s book-long fascination with Sophie, then, develops here into a more nuanced understanding of how her inner world works.

I’ve been thinking about the little kid. I think that one day the little kid got lucky and she landed in a place where it was okay if she couldn’t remember all the time, and because it was okay if she couldn’t remember all the time, and because it was okay not to remember, she started to remember. And along with the painful things came the good things to remember and maybe she felt as if she’d found some things she’d lost.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie
Related Symbols: The Little Kid
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:

Written in his last journal entry of the book, Cody records here his final thoughts about the little kid—about Sophie’s younger self, whom Sophie has tried to forget. Perhaps, Cody wonders, Sophie (the little kid) needed to reach a place where it was all right for her to forget her past—where it was okay for her to live totally in the present, however she conceived of it. This achievement was probably a good thing for Sophie, since it allowed her to acquire a sense of belonging with her adoptive family. No longer remembering her old parents or her constant skipping from foster home to foster home, Sophie could finally feel accepted, valued, and wanted.

But now that Sophie’s reached this point, Cody suggests that it’s become okay for her to start remembering the past, which explains why Sophie has, over the course of the trip, been slowly starting to remember what she’s blocked out. Precisely because Sophie reached a place where she could stop remembering her past and finally feel a sense of being present in a new life that welcomed her is why she now seems more prone to remembering her past. Maybe, at some level of her mind, she thinks it’s finally safe to start remembering.

Cody seems to imply that he thinks this new stage in Sophie’s life will be incredibly healthy for Sophie—that it will allow her to live not in a false present, but in a real one no longer held back by the blocked-out pain of her past.

I can tell that my now-parents are awfully relieved that I made it back in one piece. They keep coming into my room at night and sitting on the edge of my bed, and when I open my eyes, they say, “You okay? You need anything?” and I say, “I’m just fine.”

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:

Sophie writes this in her last journal entry of the book; she’s back home in Kentucky, and Brian and Cody are staying with her for a couple of weeks. The trio intends to explore the Ohio River together.

Perhaps the most significant element of this quote is Sophie’s usage of the term “now-parents.” This is the first place in the entire book where Sophie has acknowledged that her current parents are different than her original ones—that they’re her adoptive parents, not her biological ones. This indicates that Sophie’s mind is starting to change: she’s starting to realize a truer relation to her past family as well as her present family. She’s no longer covering the former with the latter, and is starting to consciously recognize that she had a real past before her current parents. Sophie is beginning to understand her own story in a way she’s never been able to before.

I’m not in dreamland or earthland or mule-land. I’m just right here, right now. When I close my eyes, I can still smell the sea, but I feel as if I’ve been dunked in the clear cool water and I’ve come out all clean and new.
Bye-bye, Bompie. Bye-bye, sea.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Bompie
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:

The last sentences of the book, Sophie concludes her journal with these words. Without going into any specifics, she claims to no longer be caught between the personality extremes which her father, as the first chapter showed us, has used to define her. By harking back to her first journal entry, Sophie gives a sense of closure to her journey. She’s changed from how she was before the trip, and she lives a more present life: a life not dominated by any one extreme of emotion, and which becomes freer, every day, from the painful past it once covered up.

Further, by suggesting that she’s been dunked in a cleansing water of renewal, Sophie subtly references the baptism of Frank’s son on Grand Manan. Though the baptism scared her back then—since seeing the people getting dunked triggered her fear of water—she now embraces the imagery of being baptized and reborn. Sophie is embracing the changes which, through acknowledging the truth of her past, are altering her view of herself, her history, and her world.