The Sweetness of Water

by Nathan Harris

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What happened to the creature that George was tracking in The Sweetness of Water?

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As Nathan Harris' The Sweetness of Water opens, George Walker is tracking some kind of creature in the woods near his home, but it always gets away from him. This beast, he recalls, has “eluded him since his childhood.” He sees it so clearly “in his mind's eye,” and it gives him “sense of adventure” that satisfies him deeply. He doesn't want to go home, for he is sure that the creature is just “one step away from falling into his line of sight.” Such is always the case.

We readers might begin to wonder if there is really a creature at all, at least one that George could ever catch. If it is real, he doesn't catch it. It may, however, be symbolic of George's past. He says it “travels through my head like an echo, bounding through my dreams.” George was once vigorous and strong, filled with ideals and convictions. Now, though, he has compromised in many ways. The creature reminds George of what he once was, and the search for it gives him a sense of purpose and escape once again. He can get away from who he has become by tracking the creature, by chasing after his former self, by trying to find the man he used to be.

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