An analysis of the short story “Neutral Buoyancy” by J. R. McConvey shows that the text has a chronological composition. The action takes place in about an hour, from the moments before Jetta enters the pool to the moments after she saves John’s life. Both the beginning and ending offer crucial information about the main character.

The main character is Jetta, a woman for whom swimming plays an extremely important role in her life. However, her rigid swimming routine prevents her from connecting with others or dealing with her mental problems. After reluctantly saving a drowning man’s life, Jetta realizes that she has suicidal thoughts. 

The physical setting is a public swimming pool where Jetta has been going daily for the past three years. This underlines the importance of swimming in Jetta’s life.

When it comes to the narrative technique, the story is told by a third-person narrator whose perspective is limited to Jetta. The insight into her thoughts and feelings enables readers to understand the importance of swimming to her, but this insight is also shocking at times.

The language is fairly informal as it reflects Jetta’s inner voice. This is for instance seen in her humorous and sarcastic characterizations of the other people in the pool. Similes are often used to describe Jetta to us. The water is an important symbol in the story. 

A full analysis of the short story can be found on the following pages. 

Short story analysis

I denne vejledning får du Studienets hjælp til at analysere noveller (short stories) i engelsk.

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