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Affirmation of Adulthood in John Updike’s A

Affirmation of Adulthood in Updike’s A

Experiment in Literature in My Life with the Wave

Experiment in Literature in My Life with the Wave

Octavio Paz’s extraordinary tale of “My Life with the Wave” is exactly about what the title states, a man’s life with a body of water. Paz experiments with the norm and takes literature to a higher level (Christ 375). He plays with our imagination from the start and lets us believe the man has stolen “a daughter of the sea.” These two beings try to establish a relationship despite their extremely different backgrounds and in so doing take us on a journey of discovery. The way these two characters react to one another represents the friction found in so many types of relationships. This is a love affair doomed from the beginning but destined to be experienced.

Like so many other wonderful tales from Hispanic cultures, this story blends imaginative events with realism. Just as the filmmakers did in “The Milagro Beanfield War” and “Like Water for Chocolate,” Paz encourages you to believe in the incredible. You can almost visualize the wave as a self-contained cubicle of water frothing and pumping itself up against invisible walls.

There are impossible passages that the male character takes in this story that you can enjoy through your imagination. He calls them “his troubles” (Paz 852). Events that revolve around this relationship become his secrets which leads him to alienate himself from the life he once may have had. His relationship with the water develops slowly and the water’s strong and passionate character is revealed. It is clear that the man’s troubles are directly related to the existence of the wave in his life.

Paz presents the wave as real. She is immortal. This is proven when she is left behind on the train when her man is arrested for smuggling…

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…to becoming run-off to the sewer, the wave knows her destiny will eventually return her to the sea because that is the nature of water. Since she escaped the train’s water tank, her life has proven to be cyclical. In this way she is self-serving, which is much more like the true character of water.

Paz distances the reader from the norm, arriving in a seemingly alternate universe. He demands that the reader bring the level of comprehension to a higher one (Christ 375). “My Life with the Wave” is a successful experiment in literature that celebrates the ability to view the many combinations of relationships in our world.

Works Cited

Christ, Ronald, CLC, Vol 3. Ed. Carolyn Riley. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Co., 1975.

Paz, Octavio, and “My Life with the Wave.” The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1981.

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