The Wanderer

The Wanderer V. Wind and Waves Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
36. Bouncing. Cody writes a very brief entry about the sea rolling and bouncing, saying he wants to puke.
This short entry show us that the ocean is starting to get rough for once.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
37. Wind.Sophie writes about the violent wind and waves the crew is currently experiencing. She says that the waves are incredibly high—she even estimates that they’re two stories tall—and she’s in disbelief that water can stand up so high. Sophie also writes that she’s glad she knows all the proper sailing terminology, and that she’s familiar with every line and pulley on the ship. Sophie says she feels like she’s really helping the rest of the crew, and it reassures her that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a girl or a boy doing the work, as long as the work gets done.
Here, the violent, dangerous nature of water begins to appear as the crew heads into a storm. Sophie will soon be facing her greatest fear, but she seems confident and ready: she’s achieved a kind of mastery over the boat, knowing what everything on it is and how it works. This adds to her confidence that the male crew around her are wrong for thinking that, because she’s a girl, she’s somehow less capable than they are.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon
38. Howling.Cody writes another brief entry saying that “it’s all wind and walls of water,” and that he thinks the crew is doomed.
Things have taken a sharp turn for The Wanderer. The ocean is becoming incredibly violent, causing Cody despair.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
39. Bobbing.Sophie writes that the crew has lashed down every loose object on The Wanderer, and that the waves made it seem like she’s riding a roller coaster, but now the waves are much more violent. Further, the gale force winds have ripped all their saile, and so they are left “bare-masted . . . bobbing like a cork, about as far from land as we could possibly be.”
Sophie echoes Cody’s previous description of his nausea by describing the boat as a rollercoaster entirely at the mercy of the winds and waves. This is the first time the crew seems to be in real danger, with all their sails torn.
Themes
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The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
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40. No Time. As the crewmembers of The Wanderer find themselves in the middle of a vicious storm, Cody writes that he told his father he didn’t want to die. Mo replied by telling Cody that he couldn’t die, and that “Sophie can’t die like this.” This confuses Cody—he thinks his father means something special by this remark, as if he’s “talking in code” about Sophie. He then writes that he thinks everyone talks in code about Sophie.
Mo’s comment about Sophie here makes Cody wonder what connection his father is making between dying on the ocean and Sophie as a person. It seems like Mo is suggesting that death on the ocean is somehow related to Sophie’s past. Further, Cody begins to think that Sophie, being so mysterious, can only ever be talked about or described in some unclear code.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
41. Surfing.Sophie writes that the storm is getting out of control; without sails, the boat is simply surfing at the mercy of the wind, and is pulled in whatever direction it blows. Sophie adds that she’s in a funk, because she wants to do “all the gnarly work on the boat,” all the rough work up on deck, but whenever she volunteers to do it, she gets told to take the helm instead. Further, she says that when Dock chose Cody to help fix one of the sails instead of her, she “threw a little fit.” Brian called her selfish, which angered Sophie, and so she pushed Brian, nearly knocking him overboard, but Cody saved him just in time.
Here the crew continues to assume that, because Sophie is a female, she has no place in doing the “gnarly work” on deck—that she’s too delicate, and fragile, and also that she’s not competent enough to do the work. This infuriates Sophie, especially when The Wanderer is in need of immense repair—she’s so upset that she refuses to take any of Brian’s meanness this time, and retaliates, fully expressing her anger for once.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon
42. Battling. As the storm gets worse, Sophie and Cody’s journal entries become short and terse for several chapters. In Battling, Cody says it’s better to be up on deck repairing the boat than to stay below, because when you’re working you don’t have time to think about dying.
Being below deck, for Cody, inspires more fear than comfort—even though it provides an escape from the violent water above. Being above deck distracts him from contemplating death.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
43. Weary.Sophie writes that everyone aboard the ship has cried on the day she makes her entry, but she’s determined not to.
Sophie’s strengthand resilience shines through here, again disproving the idea that she’s weak.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon
44. The Son. Cody then writes that his father told him he’d been a good son, but that he, Mo, had been a poor father. Cody says his father was wrong—Cody says he hasn’t been a good son.
The crew’s encounter with the possibility of dying is changing them. Here, Mo starts to regret how he’s treated his son.
Themes
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
45. Alone. Sophie writes that, when she was at the helm, she turned and saw Uncle Stew with his arm around Brian, and Uncle Mo with his arm around Cody, and then Uncle Dock holding the rail, looking out at the sea. She says that she wanted to leave the helm and put her arm around Uncle Dock, or vice-versa. But she couldn’t leave the helm. She says, “we are all alone out here.”
Turning to see everyone (but Dock) holding one another in compassion and love, Sophie must miss her father and mother back in Kentucky. Left facing what seems like an imminent death without the support of her family, she must feel incredibly frightened and alone.
Themes
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
46. Bompie at the Ocean. Cody writes another entry about one of Sophie’s Bompie stories, which she told to Cody while they were trying to fall asleep in their bunks. When 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 wade into the ocean. Soon, he was neck-deep, and began floating on his back. Then, he realized that he had actually seen the ocean before—back in England, where he was born. He had an epiphany: he was in the same exact ocean, and all its water stretched thousands of miles, and perhaps the water he was currently floating in had touched the coast of England. When Bompie went to let his feet downward, he couldn’t touch the bottom; looking at the shoreline, he realized he’d been pulled farther out than he thought by the current. Struggling to get back, Bompie eventually made it on shore. When he got back home, his father whipped him and his mother gave him some pie.
Here we get yet another story about one of Bompie’s dangerous encounters with water. However, this story is unique, in that it addresses more of Bompie’s own thoughts than the others have; not just his actions.Bompie has an epiphany out on the water—he comes to understand the vastness of the ocean, and how all the water which composes it is one, interconnected substance. Even though he’s on the coast of North America, he is still somehow connected with the waters that embrace the shores of England. However, this feeling of interconnection and vastness proves dangerous, as it’s distracted him from staying close to the shore. In a way, Sophie’s “push-pull” relation with water is embodied here, as Bompie must push away from water’spull in order tosurvive.
Themes
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
47. Force Ten.Sophie writes that the winds have intensified even more—Uncle Dock says that they’re in a force-ten gale, the winds blowing at fifty knots an hour. She writes that the wall-like waves are pounding day and knight, and about every 20 minutes a wave fills the cockpit. Uncle Stew is seasick, and everyone is covering his shifts.
The storm keeps getting more and more intense, stripping the crew of any sense of hope, especially now, when their sails are in disrepair. The crew is at the mercy of a sea, which quite clearly doesn’t care about their survival.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
48. Night. In Cody’s next entry, he writes that he tried to get a message to his mother last night, but we can assume that the attempt failed. Cody wonders if someone will find his log (diary) floating somewhere, and he writes a message to his mom, saying he loves her, just in case. He writes that he asked Uncle Dock about Sophie—does she know what happened to her parents? Dock replies that, “at some level, Sophie must know. But consciously? That’s something only Sophie can answer.”
Cody’s sense of hopelessness really comes to the fore here, as he’s written a death note for his mother. His continued interest in uncovering the truth of Sophie’s past and in understanding how her mind ticks appears yet again, as he asks Dock whether Sophie knows about her parents’ death. Dock’s response points to the possibility that Sophie might know, but only in her unconscious mind.
Themes
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Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
49. Spinning. In Sophie’s next two journal entries, she describes her and the crew’s encounter with a nearly fatal wave. Sophie says she was stationed on lookout, with Uncle Dock in the cockpit and Cody at the wheel, when she noticed a wave approaching that was about fifty feet high, with a distinctively high curl. She shouts to Cody and Dock, warning them (Mo and Stew are below deck), and she sees the wave hit Cody hard. Suddenly, Sophie is inside the wave. Sophie goes overboard (thankfully, she’s wearing her safety harness) and, in her head, she hears a little child’s voice shouting “Mommy! Daddy!”
The sea finally makes a vicious attack on The Wanderer. Perhaps the most important element of this scene is when Sophie hears the child’s voice. As we learn later that Sophie’s parents drowned at sea in a similar situation, we can infer that the voice Sophie hears is her own from long ago, when she was with her parents during the accident. As she re-experiences a similar encounter with the sea, the memory of her parent’s death partly resurfaces in her mind.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
50. The Wave. Sophie says that the wave, which she calls “The Wave,” like the one that haunts her in her dreams, had knocked her onto the deck (from the mast) flat on her back. After the wave passed, Uncle Stew, peeking out of the main hatch, grabbed Sophie’s harness and pulled her down the hatch. Sophie writes that both of her legs were in great pain, and she thought for a second that they might be broken. She sees that Mo, Brian, and Stew are also below deck; Brian lets her know that he’s seen Cody and Dock still on board—they’re just up on deck. Cody’s head had been banged up by the wave pretty badly, and Sophie goes up and cleans his wounds and bandages them. Further, she says that the GPS, ham radio, and radar are all seemingly broken after the wave.
The Wave of Sophie’s dream has seemingly appeared in real life—but unlike her dream, this wave ultimately consumes her, crashing down on her and sweeping her onto the deck, slightly injuring her. This Wave is Sophie’s greatest nightmare come true—it’s the violence of the ocean which “pushes” her away, despite the immense “pull” of its vastness and mystery. Further, the fact that all of the navigation equipment stops working contributes to the sense of the ocean as a newly dangerous force, for the crew is now stranded, with no electronicsto help orient themselves.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
51. Limping.Cody writes that the crew is “limping along by the seat of our pants.” He says he doesn’t feel present, like “he’s somewhere else and watching this strange movie.” He says that he wishes he knew how their trip would end—whether they’d make it or not. If they knew they’d land, he could relax, and if he knew they weren’t, then they could stop wasting time trying to fix things, and do something important, but he doesn’t know what that would be.
Cody is gripped by despair—the chaos of the ocean threatening his life, seems almost unreal as the looming possibility of his death is hard to fathom. If he could simply know the outcome—whether he’d live or die—then he could maybe decide how to act, and feel at least a bit more stable.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
52. Jumbled. Sophie writes, in a new entry, that the crew is afraid to sleep—they’re afraid that the nearly fatal wave will return. She also compares her encounter with the wave to being born—in her mother’s womb, safe and sound, suddenly a “huge surge of water broke” on her, forcing her into a compact little package to be forced out of a small space, ending with her lying helpless on her back, attached only by an umbilical cord.
Sophie interestingly makes the connection between the wave and the sensation of being born. Being swept away by water and plopped helplessly on her back resemblesthe power of the wave which threw her onto the deck. The umbilical cord, which held her safely to her mother, is like the safety harness attaching her to the ship.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
53. Bompie and his Father. Cody writes an entry about another Bompie story Sophie tells—she mentioned it after Cody asked if Bompie’s father ever felt sorry for whipping him. This story is unique, because it doesn’t involve Bompie falling in the water. When Bompie’s father was old and very ill, Bompie went to visit him. He sat by his father’s bed, every day, for three weeks. For the first two weeks, Bompie was angry at his father; during the second week, he kept reminding his father of all the times his father had whipped him. When the third week came, however, Bompie looked at his father, felt his forehead and cheeks, and must have finally realized how sick he really was. When Bompie came back the next day, he brought his father an apple, and they both cried.
Here, we encounter a special story about Bompie—no water is involved. Instead, it’s a touching story about how Bompie reconciles with his dying father. While Bompie’s mother always seemed to just be grateful that he stayed alive—that he survived his dangerous encounters with water—his father always wanted to make sure he was harshly punished. Yet Bompie, after a few weeks, softens towards his father. Realizing that his father’s end is near, Bompie puts aside his anger and, as a sign of love, giveshimfood.
Themes
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
54. Mr. Fix-It.In her next journal entry, Sophie writes that Cody has been very active in making boat repairs, working non-stop while the rest of the crew is only able to work in short bursts. Sophie says that everyone on board is thankful for Cody right now, even though they refuse to admit it. Further, Uncle Dock says that the GPS, ham radio, and radar are still all not functioning. The Wanderer is also still without working sails from when the storm ripped them, and the crew is praying for the seas and wind to settle down. Sophie says that the crew is thinking about being alive, “and how fragile a line there is” between life and death.
Though every member except Sophie has touted Cody as a basically useless slacker, Cody is proving them all wrong after the wave has hit by working while everyone else rests. Even though Cody’s head was badly injured, he perseveres with a seriousness and dedication which he hasn’t demonstrated until now. Further, the ship’s lack of sails is just another way that the ship and crew are at the mercy of the vast, uncontrollable sea.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
55. Wet.Sophie says in a brief entry that nearly everything on the boat is wet, but at least The Wanderer has sails again. She writes, “We might make it.”
Finally, the crew has at least the possibility of navigating their way through the storm and surviving.
Themes
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
56. Useful. After Cody writes that The Wanderer has sails again (in Wet), Sophie writes an entry saying that Brian and Uncle Stew have been using the sextant for navigation, since the GPS is broken. Sophie says that it’s frightening to be on lookout now, after her encounter with the giant wave. She also mentions that it seems like it’s been a hundred years since they were on Grand Manan. Further, Cody was able to contact a Canadian warship which verified The Wanderer’s position—they’re about 500 miles from Ireland, where they’ll land and drive to England. They’re less than a week away.
In the aftermath of the giant wave, the ship and crew are finally beginning to recover. Sophie’s comments early on in the novel about the sea’s way of altering her perception of time are echoed here, when she says that it seems like 100 years have passed since Grand Manan. After the storm, there’s finally a bit of hope again, as the crew verifies their position and the possibility re-emerges of reaching Ireland safely.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
57. Thinking.Sophiewrites a brief entry saying that she is thinking about finally seeing Bompie, but feels scared, and wonders why.
Sophie seems worried that everything Bompiemeans to her will somehow be changed upon actually meeting him.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
58. Little Kid: Push and Pull.Cody writes an entry about another story Sophie tells him—but this time, it’s not about Bompie. Cody had asked her if she could remember what her life was like when she was little, and she replies: “Why do people always ask that?” She then starts to tell a story about the little kid again. The little kid, she says, has no idea what’s going on—but the kid is cold, hungry, and/or scared and wants Mommy and Daddy. Other people, however, tell the little kid that her parents have gone to heaven—which is a magnificent place—and so the little kid feels bad, wondering why her parents didn’t take her to such a nice place. Everywhere the little kid goes, people always ask if the kid can remember her parents, but the little kid doesn’t want to think about it—it’s too painful. The little kid just wants to be focused on the present; but no matter what the little kid may want, the she always feels like something propels her forward while something else draws her back to the past.
Sophie’s question—why everyone always asks her whether she has any recollection of her early childhood—signals that at the level of her conscious mind, she really is clueless as to why people are so interested in her past. She does not think her past is interesting, because she has blocked out the memory of her parents’ death. By telling the story of the little kid, she tells the story of herself—the story that she does not want to claim as her own.In this way she describes the pain of not knowing where her parents went, feeling abandoned by them, and constantly trying to move on from losing them, despite constantly being asked about them. The little kid, like Sophie herself, wants to try and live in the present moment.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
59. New Dreams. In Sophie’s next journal entry, she writes that Mo is trying to be kinder to Cody—Mo’s stopped barking at him and calling him names. She says that Cody doesn’t seem to know how to interpret his father’s new behavior. Sophie also says that Uncle Stew seems calmer and nicer, even now, after the nearly fatal wave, when there are so many things he could be worrying about. Stew even gets a bit sentimental, saying that as a parent sometimes you have to realize that you can’t control everything in your child’s life, and you just have to “let go and pray” that your kid will be okay on their own. Sophie writes that she wonders if the same is true for children—that sometimes they have to let go of their parents.
Here, we see a rare side of both Mo and Stew—Mo is trying the be nice to Cody and mend their broken relationship, while Stew is being unusually sentimental about the duties of parenthood. While Stew is typically a control freak, here he insists that, when it comes to being a good parent, you have to accept the fact that you are actually not in total control of your child’s life—that you must even pray for them. It’s appropriate that Sophie wonders about children needing to let go of their parents—as this very problem consistently haunts her psyche.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Sophie then writes that she keeps thinking about the dream of The Wave that she always has. She says that the wave of her dreams was exactly the same height and shape of the wave that happened in real life, only the former was black, while the latter was white. While she was always on land in her dreams when the wave hit, now the dreams have changed for the worse—she’s always on a boat now, and when the wave comes, it sweeps her far away. Whereas before, when she was on land in her dreams, she could start piling up sand bags as a barrier against the wave, now she’s utterly helpless in her new dreams. She says she can’t rid herself of the feeling that all her old dreams were pointing to the nearly fatal wave she encountered in real life on the ocean.
Sophie’s encounter with The Wave of real life has affected her nightmarish visions of The Wave in her dreams. Now the latter always succeeds in sweeping her away, whereas before she would always wake up just in time. Furthermore, her comment that the wave of her dreams pointed to the wave in real life reveals, to some extent, how she’s starting to realize, on some level, that braving the ocean was a way for her to tryand master the fear fueled by the waves of her dreams—that braving the ocean was a way to try and conquer her fear of water.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
Sophie then mentions a discussion she had with Cody about life. They wondered if people actually ever die, of if they just leave forever, “leaving other planes behind.” They speculate that, whenever you come near to death, you actually do die—on one plane—but your life continues on another plane, and you don’t notice that you died on the old one. They wonder if maybe an individual human isn’t made up of just one life, but rather millions of different lives on different planes.
Having faced death in the middle of the ocean, Sophie and Cody wonder about a profound thought: perhaps they did actually die when the wave struck, but were reborn before they could notice. Faced with the vastness of the ocean, they wonder if life itself is so vast that one human life is actually many millions of lives. The ocean has forced them to think on this larger scale.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
60. Questions. Cody writes the last log entry of the fifth section of the book, saying that he wants to talk to his father now that Mo is finally reaching out, but he’s unsure of what to say or how to act around him. He then asks a philosophical question about why we don’t notice ourselves changing as we’re actually in the process of doing so, but only after the fact—days, weeks, months after we initially started to change. Cody says he feels like he’s been asleep his entire life; he wishes he had been more inquisitive before, like Sophie, and wishes that he knew more, but says he doesn’t know how to become someone like that. Cody also says that he’s beginning to see his father in a new light—that he suddenly looks like a total stranger. There’s so much of his father’s history, he realizes, that he doesn’t know.
Cody has another philosophical thought here, highlighting how the trip on The Wanderer has changed him deeply. The encounter with The Wave has made him wake up, and he feels like he’s taken his whole life for granted until now. He wants to try and see the world with more curiosity, with more amazement at the things in it, like Sophie does. The Wave has also refreshed his view of his father, who appears as someone new—Cody sees Mo with a new openness. A space has opened for them to rethink and renew their relationship with one another.
Themes
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
Cody adds that he’s still not sure how Sophie knows Bompie’sstories, or if they even really are Bompie’s stories. If they are, did he really only ever tell her ones about struggling in the water? If so, then why? He’s worried about what will happen to Sophie when they get to Bompie—he says he’s afraid for her. He concludes his entry by saying that he dreamed Bompie was telling him the story about his father dying—when Cody woke up from the dream, he went looking for his dad. When Cody found his dad sleeping on his bunk, Cody poked him until he awoke. When Mo opened his eyes, Cody said, “Just checking.”
Here, Cody is sensing that Sophie’s meeting with Bompie might actually not go all that well. While Sophie idealizes Bompie and seems to have such enthusiasm about meeting him, Cody is worried that Sophie has imagined that she knows Bompie, and that, upon meeting her, Bompie will not know her, and will greatly let her down. Cody’s effort to check on his dad shows that he has a new empathy for his father.
Themes
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon