The father

The short story contains little reference to the father’s outer characterization such as his looks, age or job. We mainly learn about his family situation: He is separated or divorced from the mother of his child, and we get the impression that she was the one who made the decision: “For a long time he hadn’t wanted her back” (l. 15). You normally only want back the people who have left you - not the ones you left yourself. This quote also indicates that now he actually does want her back. This is supported by another part of his flashback: “When he looked at her she shook her head and looked away and at that moment he thought, maybe - maybe he could make this right” (ll. 19-20). Of course, this might just refer to the man’s relationship with his son, but it might also indicate that part of him is actually dreaming about winning her back.

In any case, the man’s inner characterization reveals that he blames himself for a lot of unspecified things in the past. When he is trapped in the river, he thinks to himself: “My God, all his other fuckups were just preparation for this” (ll. 135-136). We get the impression that it has become very important to the man to keep his promises and not let down his family: He picks up his son at dawn “as he’d promised” (l. 13), and he rejects his impulse to cancel the trip when seeing the river because “he’d promised” (l. 40). His genera...

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