The Wanderer

The Open Ocean Symbol Analysis

The Open Ocean Symbol Icon

Docked at Block Island and anxiously waiting to get out onto the open seas, Sophie says that she finds the ocean so alluring because “all of time is connected” when you’re on it. The ocean is therefore a place that, in its very nature, runs counter to many peoples’ ordinary, everyday experiences. The open ocean is turbulent, dangerous, and immensely far-reaching. You lose sight of land, and are surrounded by a horizon that seems endless. The sense of distinct days following one after the other blurs together, and time feels like one giant present. By bringing the crewmembers of The Wanderer out of their comfort zones and the familiar environments of their typical, daily lives, the ocean forces them to confront the mystery of their own existence. What is life? Why are they here? Is time a straight line or a circle? The open ocean represents mystery, change, and vastness.

The Open Ocean Quotes in The Wanderer

The The Wanderer quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Open Ocean. 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:
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Wanderer published in 2011.
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:

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II. Shakedown Quotes

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:

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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:

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IV. Under Way Quotes

Here we are, well out in the big blue, rolling, rolling, sailing on to England. Out here, I feel as if the ocean is alive, as if it is living and breathing, and moody, oh so moody! Sometimes it is calm and smooth, as if it were asleep; and sometimes it is playful, splashing and rolling; and sometimes it is angry and knocks us about. It’s as if the ocean has many sides, like me.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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I stared out at the water and up at the sky and had the strangest rush of feelings. First I was completely peaceful, as if this was the most perfect place on earth to be, and then suddenly the peacefulness turned into wide, wide loneliness.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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V. Wind and Waves Quotes

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:

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It seems a hundred years ago that we were lobstering and clamming on Grand Manan and trekking around Wood Island, and it seems a hundred years ago that we were eager to get under way, oblivious to what lay in wait for us. I feel as if I have to start to love sailing again, because I don’t love it now. I just want to get to Bompie and forget about the ocean for a while.

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

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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:

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Last night, Cody and I got into this very serious talk about Life. We wondered if maybe people never die, but simply live on and on, leaving other planes behind. When you come near death, you die on one plane—so to everyone you are with, you are dead, but you—the you in you—doesn’t stop existing. Instead, you keep living the same as always and it just seems as if you’ve had a close call. We wondered if maybe we’re not each just one person, but many people existing on millions of different planes, like a line that branches off and branches again and on it goes, but it always has one central trunk.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Cody
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

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VI. Land Quotes

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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Open Ocean Symbol Timeline in The Wanderer

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Open Ocean appears in The Wanderer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
I. Preparations
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
...The Sea. The book begins with a journal entry by Sophie. She describes how the sea has called out to her since she was little, and how—despite being told she was... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...the river, and they don’t understand why Sophie wants to leave to travel across the ocean. One of them says that Sophie just got here, and that she shouldn’t leave because... (full context)
II. Shakedown
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
...already feels more “fluid and relaxed,” but she’s excited to get out on the open ocean, “where time is all connected.” (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...for Nova Scotia, and that this will be their first time out on the open ocean with no sight of land. (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
13. Shakedown. Out at sea, Sophie writes about how her sense of time is being warped by being out on... (full context)
IV. Under Way
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...towards England. Sophie says that the intensity and immenseness of the project of crossing the ocean is finally hitting her, and she realizes that the crew won’t be able to leave... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...on the boat—she likes being in a self-contained group of people who can brave the ocean together. (full context)
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...calm, steady, level-headed person. Sophie writes that after Dock left, she stared out at the ocean and had a bizarre rush of feelings. First she felt totally peaceful, that the ocean... (full context)
V. Wind and Waves
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
36. Bouncing. Cody writes a very brief entry about the sea rolling and bouncing, saying he wants to puke. (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...Bompie was young, he hitchhiked from Kentucky to the shoreline of Virginia to see the ocean, which he’d never seen before. He fell in love with the water, and decided to... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...dreams were pointing to the nearly fatal wave she encountered in real life on the ocean. (full context)
VI. Land
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...here, right now. Sophie says that, when she closes her eyes, she still smells the sea—but she feels as if she’s “been dunked in the clear cool water” and re-emerged anew.... (full context)