So Much Water So Close to Home

by Raymond Carver

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Characters

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Claire

The main character in the text is Claire. She acts as the narrator of the tale, and the events follow her actions and thoughts. She is a wife and mother, and she has grown suspicious of her husband's behavior. As the two have become distant through time, she worries about the truth of his involvement in the murder—she is perturbed and seems to believe he knows more than he lets on. 

The first instance she shows concern over in the text is simply her husband's enjoyment of the dinner she has prepared for him—an innocuous thing, but his potential dishonesty about it belies his true nature, in her opinion. It seems that his disinterest in the dinner is more of a surface-level response to the general distress both husband and wife are experiencing. What is truly upsetting them is the body Stuart and his friends found. 

Claire becomes obsessed with the story of the dead woman and even goes to the woman's funeral, despite not knowing her, doing whatever she can to glean more information. She shares with Stuart that a young woman was killed in her hometown when she was young. This woman was also tossed into a river. Claire feels more and more distant from Stuart as the tension between them grows. At one point, she even worries about their young son Dean’s whereabouts. Her paranoia and fear have become palpable, invading her life. In the end, however, her loneliness catches up with her and she shares an intimate moment with her husband in spite of her suspicions about him.

Stuart

Claire's husband, Stuart, is the second main character. While away on a fishing trip, he and his friends find a dead body, which they don't immediately report and instead decide to tether to a nearby tree. This behavior is very suspicious. He is callous and rude towards Claire and vehemently maintains his innocence, even in the absence of substantial proof that would help his case. His adamant protests that he had nothing to do with the woman's death lead him into a fit of anger that makes him seem more suspect in the matter. He begins drinking and responding viciously to Claire, ultimately leading her to sleep on the couch. Stuart keeps insisting that the body of the girl “wasn’t going anywhere,” meaning that it didn’t matter that they waited to report it or get help. Her body would be there regardless because she is dead. This makes Claire uncomfortable and nervous. In the end, Stuart attempts to initiate intimacy with Claire. She acquiesces despite her concerns about her husband. It seems that both halves of the couple are exhausted by the strain between them so they are returning to the physical aspect of their relationship for comfort.

Stuart’s Fishing Buddies

Additional characters include Stuart's fishing buddies, Mel, Vern, and Gordon, who may be accessories to the crime. One of the men wanted to immediately return to their car to report the body, but everyone else thought of reasons not to. 

Dean

Claire and Stuart’s son, Dean, is never present but is mentioned in the story. Claire worries about his well-being at the end of the story, but he is merely playing outside.

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