Drown

by

Junot Díaz

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The Pool Symbol Analysis

The Pool Symbol Icon

As the title would suggest, “Drown” uses water to symbolize how the pleasures of Yunior’s youth—including swimming—contribute to a growing sense of confinement as he ages. Yunior’s narrative revolves around his neighborhood pool, which is initially the fun destination of his adolescent summer nights with Beto. Surrounded by a plastic fence that is (increasingly) hard to climb, the pool is a sacred space of adolescent freedom where Yunior and Beto are able to establish their brotherhood and where Yunior can go in his later years to find the stillness, quiet, and solitude that he cannot get at home. However, throughout the story, the pool takes on a more negative cast. It is an intimate and sometimes scarily exposed space: Yunior and Beto watch neighborhood boys pull off a teenage girl’s bikini top, undressing her without her consent. Similarly, Both of Beto’s sexual advances happen after the two boys have been swimming, so they are already in intimate proximity and in various stages of undress both physically and emotionally. As the pool becomes associated with the difficulties of adulthood, rather than their carefree childhood romps, it parallels the other aspects of Yunior’s life that were once comfortable and are now perhaps stifling: living in his mother’s house, for example, or shoplifting once the legal consequences become clear. Despite the pool’s growing negative associations, Yunior can’t seem to shake free of it: the water still provides him solace and comfort, even if it is through adult solitude instead of youthful companionship.

The Pool Quotes in Drown

The Drown quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Pool. 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:
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of Drown published in 1996.
Drown Quotes

I can still go far without coming up. While everything above is loud and bright, everything below is whispers.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Pool
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

He hated when I knew something he didn't. He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me under. He was wearing a cross and cutoff jeans. He was stronger than me and held me down until water flooded my nose and throat. Even then I didn't tell him; he thought I didn't read, not even dictionaries.

Related Characters: Yunior (speaker), Beto
Related Symbols: The Pool
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Drown LitChart as a printable PDF.
Drown PDF

The Pool Symbol Timeline in Drown

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Pool appears in Drown. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Drown
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
...parking lot, but at night they would eagerly hop the plastic fence at the local pool to swim with the rest of the neighborhood children. This was the most effective way... (full context)
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
In spite of himself, Yunior makes his way towards the familiar racket at the local pool, assuming that Beto will be there. As he has gotten older, it has become much... (full context)
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
...Yunior straightens up, he notices that he is one of the oldest people at the pool, surrounded mostly by the younger siblings of his high school classmates, who recognize him primarily... (full context)
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
Physical Ability  Theme Icon
...up for air and finding the cops yelling at them to get out of the pool and go home.  (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Returning from the pool, Yunior finds that his mother is still awake and he watches television with her. They... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Sexuality and Masculinity Theme Icon
Despite his feelings of hurt and confusion, Yunior still goes to the pool that night because Beto is still his best friend. After they swim in silence, Beto... (full context)
Intimacy and Estrangement Theme Icon
Escape and Belonging Theme Icon
Past vs. Present  Theme Icon
The narrative returns to the present, weeks after Yunior went looking for Beto at the pool. Yunior explains that he believes he saw Beto driving in his father’s car, but he... (full context)