All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by

Jennifer Niven

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Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers) Symbol Analysis

Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers) Symbol Icon

Water (which shows up in a number of forms in the novel) symbolizes the interconnectedness between life and death. Finch admits at one point that he has “a thing for water.” His affinity for water takes a variety of forms: he swims in the summer when it’s warm enough, he practices holding his breath underwater for long periods of time, and some of the novel’s happiest moments take place when Finch and Violet swim together. Water, Finch explains, is his favorite way to “cheat the Asleep”—that is, it makes him feel more alive, as when he holds his breath and feels invincible.

However, the novel makes it clear that one of the primary reasons Finch likes water so much is because he’s well aware that it can kill him if he lets it. Indeed, the fact that he fixates on writer Virginia Woolf’s suicide supports this: she filled her pockets with rocks and then drowned in a river. And as Finch’s mental health deteriorates and he begins contemplating suicide, he becomes increasingly interested in water and even leaves clues as to his whereabouts that mention water for Violet. Violet is ultimately able to follow his clues directing her to the Blue Hole, where Finch presumably drowned himself. Water, in this instance, symbolizes death.

Because of this, though, it’s significant that the novel ends with Violet swimming in the Blue Hole on a hot summer day. As she swims, she thinks of Finch—and she also thinks about all the places she wants to go and see in the future. This reinforces the idea that water symbolizes both life and death—and the idea that life and death exist in a delicate balance, particularly for suicidal people like Finch. Water can make a person feel more alive, as it does in that moment for Violet and it once did for Finch—but it can also take a person’s life away.

Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers) Quotes in All the Bright Places

The All the Bright Places quotes below all refer to the symbol of Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ember edition of All the Bright Places published in 2016.
12. Finch: The night of the day my life changed Quotes

Water is peaceful. I am at rest. In the water, I am safe and pulled in where I can’t get out. Everything slows down—the noise and the racing of my thoughts. I wonder if I could sleep like this, here on the bottom of the bathtub, if I wanted to sleep, which I don’t. I let my mind drift. I hear words forming as if I’m sitting at the computer already.

In March of 1941, after three serious breakdowns, Virginia Woolf wrote a note to her husband and walked to a nearby river. She shoved heavy stones into her pocket and dove into the water. “Dearest,” the note began, “I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times…So I am doing what seems the best thing to do.

Related Characters: Theodore Finch (speaker)
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
32. Finch: The first warm day Quotes

“What are you most afraid of?”

I think, I’m most afraid of Just be careful. I’m most afraid of the Long Drop. I’m most afraid of Asleep and impending, weightless doom. I’m most afraid of me.

“I’m not.”

Related Characters: Theodore Finch (speaker), Violet Markey
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
54. Violet: May 3 Quotes

In all his words, the preacher doesn’t mention suicide. The family is calling his death an accident because they didn’t find a proper note […]. I stand, thinking how it wasn’t an accident at all and how “suicide victim” is an interesting term. The victim part of it implies they had no choice. And maybe Finch didn’t feel like he had a choice, or maybe he wasn’t trying to kill himself at all but just going in search of the bottom.

Related Characters: Violet Markey (speaker), Theodore Finch, Finch’s Mom, Finch’s Dad
Page Number: 341
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire All the Bright Places LitChart as a printable PDF.
All the Bright Places PDF

Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers) Symbol Timeline in All the Bright Places

The timeline below shows where the symbol Water (the Blue Hole, Swimming Pools, Rivers) appears in All the Bright Places. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
12. Finch: The night of the day my life changed
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...it is, but he puts his feet up the wall until his head is totally underwater. He pretends he’s in a lake. For Finch, water is peaceful and safe. Everything—including his... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
Finch’s lungs begin to burn. He’s not sure how long he’s been underwater, but it’s been several minutes at least. He thinks about the man who holds the... (full context)
21. Finch: Day 22 and I’m still here
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...Finch drove to French Lick, a resort with a healing spring. He drank the spring water to “fix the dark, slow churning” in his mind and felt great until he woke... (full context)
23. Finch: Days 23, 24, 25…
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...an old blue comforter of Kate’s. After two days, the walls are blue like a swimming pool . Finch can catch his breath. He leaves the ceiling white, since white contains the... (full context)
24. Violet: 135, 134, 133 days to go
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...is chasing them or yelling at them. When they get to the trees near the river, Finch tells Violet to be quiet—the first one to make a noise has to streak... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...would be more fun if Violet was naked too, and then he dives into the river. Violet sits on the bank and watches him, and then she pulls out their notebook... (full context)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
...off anymore, but Violet isn’t worried about being counted absent. Finch gets out of the river, dresses, and starts to tell Violet what they should do next. But then, Roamer, Ryan,... (full context)
25. Finch: Day 27 (I am still here)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Finch watches Violet leave and then sits on the floor of the shower. He can’t look at himself in the mirror. Then, Finch turns on his computer, even... (full context)
27. Violet: Saturday
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...as he quotes an ancient Vedic hymn, Finch finishes it. The last line is about water, and Finch says he “ha[s] this thing about water.” For the rest of breakfast, Finch... (full context)
29. Finch: Day 30 (and I am AWAKE)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
...worth it, and he remembers Violet’s look when he tried to drown Roamer at the river. Finch starts to count as Roamer slams Finch into a locker and punches him in... (full context)
32. Finch: The first warm day
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
...Blue Hole in Prairieton. He leads her over a hill to a round pool of water surrounded by trees. Finch explains that supposedly, the Blue Hole is either bottomless or has... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...of “Asleep” and himself. But he tells Violet he’s not afraid and leaps into the water with her. (full context)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Finch leads Violet in a dive toward the center of the Blue Hole . They return to the surface when Violet tugs on Finch’s hand, and she comments... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...himself not to panic and thinks that drowning isn’t a common method of committing suicide. Water is Finch’s favorite way to “cheat the Asleep.” He wants to keep going, but he... (full context)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...time. Finch is afraid he’s frightened her too much as he comes out of the water. When he’s next to her, Violet pushes him and slaps him. Finch reminds himself this... (full context)
33. Violet: The Day Of
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...His bedroom is now blue, and Violet feels like she’s in a swimming pool. She showers first, and then Finch showers quickly. He returns to his bedroom in his towel and... (full context)
38. Finch: How to survive quicksand
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...walk-in closet, which feels like a warm, cozy cave. He brings in the jug of water from Mudlavia and a picture of Violet in with him, along with the license plate... (full context)
46. Violet: March 18
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
...woman who must be Finch’s mom opens the door, invites Violet in, and gets her water. She says that Finch should be home from school by now, and Violet realizes that... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
...Violet asks if Finch has spoken to anyone. She looks around, notices the pillows and water jug, and asks if Finch is living in the closet. Finch just says that he’s... (full context)
50. Violet: The rest of March
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...next afternoon, he writes cryptically, “The glow of Ultraviolet.” The following day, he writes, “A lake. A prayer. It’s so lovely to be lovely in Private.” Then, the texts stop. (full context)
52. Violet: April 26
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...with: “There was nothing to make him last a long time” and “Go to the water if it suits thee there.” (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
...line is from The Waves. Violet thinks he’s gone someplace they wandered where there was water. Violet offers to give Finch’s mom directions to several places, but Finch’s mom turns to... (full context)
53. Violet: April 26 (part 2)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...alive. But Violet gets out, walks up the embankment, and then walks down to the Blue Hole . It’s peaceful and quiet. Violet notices Finch’s clothes folded neatly on the bank. She... (full context)
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
Violet takes off her shoes and dives into the water. She swims as deep as she can, but she can’t hold her breath as long... (full context)
57. Violet: Remaining wanderings 3 and 4
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
Violet heads for Munster, a small town bordered by rivers in Northwest Indiana. She stops at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery, and a... (full context)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...is in Farmersburg, 15 miles from the Blue Hole. Violet checks the corresponding text: “A lake. A prayer. It’s so lovely to be lovely in Private.” When she can’t find anything... (full context)
58. Violet: The Last Wandering
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...past all the churches, but none of them are very pretty, and none are near water. At a gas station, she asks the attendant about nearby lakes and churches. He says... (full context)
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
...She stops in and asks an employee if she knows where she’d find a beautiful lake and a church. The woman says that Emmanuel Baptist Church is up the highway, and... (full context)
59. Violet: June 20
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...parks on the side of the road and then hikes over the embankment to the Blue Hole . She dives in, looking for Finch even though she knows she won’t find him.... (full context)
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
...part of the legend of the Blue Hole, and he’ll always be there. Violet treads water and admires the sky. It reminds her of Finch, just like everything else does. She... (full context)