The Story of Tom Brennan

by

J. C. Burke

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Water Symbol Icon

Throughout the novel, water in various forms functions as a symbol for freedom or improvement. Tom notably begins to connect with his new rugby teammates in Coghill when he decides to join them at the local swimming pool, while Aunty Kath and Fin move to an apartment where the latter can see the ocean—moving home is, for Fin, a massive improvement over living in the hospital or in rehab, as he did for almost a year after the accident. The ocean also figures heavily into Tom's happy memories of times long past, with one notable exception: the time when Daniel held Tom underwater in retaliation. With that particular memory, water comes to symbolize the future in general. While for many, the ocean, swimming pool, or river help them recognize that there's a brighter future ahead, that moment is suggestive of Daniel's streak of cruelty that ultimately foreshadows his behavior in the lead up to the accident.

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Water Symbol Timeline in The Story of Tom Brennan

The timeline below shows where the symbol Water appears in The Story of Tom Brennan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Three
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
...in the kitchen and cheerily invites Tom to come with him and Kylie to the pool. Dad says that Mum is "having a lie down," which Tom knows means that she's... (full context)
Chapter Five
Family Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
...the conversation. He thinks that in an hour he'll be able to smell the salty water of the ocean. That smell used to be one that brought excitement. Brendan notices Tom... (full context)
Chapter Six
Family Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
When Tom and Brendan leave the hospital, they're too exhausted to swim in the ocean so they begin the long drive home. Brendan asks Tom's opinion on how Fin is.... (full context)
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
...is confused but realizes that Rory had invited him to meet the guys at the pool later. (full context)
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
Tom isn't sure he wants to swim, but he decides the pool is better than being home for Gran's prayer group. The man at the gate played... (full context)
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
...tell himself to relax as he kicks off his shoes. He leaps into the cold water several times. Tom feels free and light as Rory, Jimmy, and Soupe, two other rugby... (full context)
Chapter Thirteen
Family Theme Icon
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
...minutes later, Tom finds Kylie and Fin to tell Kylie they're leaving. Kylie's eyes are watery, and Fin explains that he got a postcard from Claire. He says that she's in... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
At Jonny's house, Jonny explains exactly how to turn the water on in the shower without getting burnt. Tom barely listens; he's concerned that the door... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Jonny manages to turn the water off and hands Tom a towel, and then he and Brendan start laughing. Chrissy tries... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
...he's taking Tom somewhere special. He refuses to tell Tom where until Tom hears the river. When they come to a clearing by the water, Tom tugs on an old rope... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
...thanks Brendan for staying. After a few minutes, Brendan says he didn't come to the river at all last summer because of the memories. Tom notes that Gran says they need... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen
Family Theme Icon
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
...the chair and sits on a bench so they can both look out at the ocean. Fin whispers that he doesn't hate Daniel and says he got another postcard from Claire.... (full context)
Chapter Nineteen
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
One morning, Brendan and Tom run to the river and jump in. Tom thinks about bringing Chrissy to the river and tells Brendan that... (full context)
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
...stay out of her way. He hangs out with Rory, Brad, and Jimmy at the pool. He feels bad about not telling them about the swimming spot at the river, but... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
...the car with Kylie and Brendan, it's 6:50. Tom races down the track to the river. He can't see Chrissy, but he's sure she's there and yells for her. Finally, he... (full context)