I have begun a synthesis paper about the symbolism of water. In nature writing it is a key element. What other things does water represent in James Dickey's Deliverance ?
Water is a powerful literary and visual symbol. It can have several meanings and this depends upon how water is portrayed: oceans, rivers, lakes and rain may have different meanings. For instance, rivers are often associated with forgetting and denial because of the Greek myth about Lethe, the river of forgetfulness and oblivion. The river the men are canoeing in becomes a place of denial when they leave their friend's body behind after his apparent suicide. He kills himself because he believes they are wrong for hiding their acts of murder (despite having been pushed to it by self defense), and guilt drives his actions. There is denial of their crimes and of their culpability in his suicide, but they are also in denial about the folly of their decision to go on this trip without realizing traveling in this unfamiliar place might prove more dangerous than they thought.