So Much Water So Close to Home

by Raymond Carver

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What are key differences between "So Much Water So Close to Home" and its film adaptation Jindabyne?

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The short story "So Much Water So Close to Home" by Raymond Carver and the film adaptation Jindabyne are about a couple on a fishing trip in an isolated area. The main characters, Stuart and Claire, discover a body of a dead girl in the river and this discovery changes their perception of each other and their marriage. What's similar in these works is that they are told from the female point of view. The girl's dog was also killed, along with another man; this death is left unsolved in the short story, but there is closure in the movie. Both deal with themes of trust between two people, how people can be deceptive towards others even though they may love them.

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When brainstorming a compare-contrast essay , it can be helpful to craft a general outline for those aspects of the stories you wish to analyze. In this case, because the film "Jindabyne" was adapted from Carver's short story, we can expect that there are significant intersections in story elements. For...

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  • Both works' main characters are a married couple, Stuart and Claire.
  • Both works refer to the deceased girl as "the girl."


  • Both plots involve a fishing trip wherein a body is discovered.
  • Both plots follow how Claire's thoughts and feelings about her husband change due to the discovery of the body.


  • Both the film and the short story examine distrust in a marriage.
  • Both works question our responsibilities to our own desires versus those to our neighbors/communities.


  • Water is a major symbol in both works.
  • The isolated landscape in both works is symbolic of human isolation.

Then, note the areas of the works that contrast:


  • In the film, the killer is not apprehended.
  • In the short story, the killer is apprehended.


  • In the film, existing friction between white families and Aboriginal families plays a significant part in how the community reacts.
  • In the short story, race and culture do not play a part in how others react.


  • In the film, the concept that one person never truly knows another is represented both in the marriage and in the community's reaction to the discovery of the body.
  • In the short story, the idea that one person never truly knows another is confined to Claire's suspicion that Stuart could be the murderer.


  • In the film, Claire's pregnancy is symbolic of a new life that she longs for; but she considers having an abortion, a sign that she has given up on life.
  • In the short story, sex is symbolic of the desire for belonging, though Claire and Stuart are physically distant otherwise throughout the story

Depending on the depth of your analysis, you might explore each area of your outline or choose the points that seem most significant to develop further. In either case, be sure to use examples from the works to bolster your analysis and expand on your ideas through applying your point of view.

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The film "Jindabyne" (d. Ray Lawrence) features several crucial differences from the short story by Raymond Carver on which it is based. The most critical of these is that the dead woman in Carver's version is white, whereas the dead woman in the movie is aboriginal. Since the central conflicts in the narrative stem from the men's relative disregard for the body, having a white corpse facilitates the short story's existential perspective on the meaningless of life that transcends cultural barriers. In contrast, Lawrence's decision to make the body aboriginal makes the story specific in time and place; Australia has a complicated history of race relations between whites and aboriginals, which the movie directly invokes to explore an ongoing political situation.

Another difference between the short story and movie concerns character perspective. In Carver's story, Claire is the narrator and the narrative flows from her first-person perspective; the story becomes about her experience of the girl's death and what it signifies for her relationship with her husband. However, "Jindabyne" is told from multiple characters' points of views, which fuels the political exploration of racial tension from a broader perspective of different characters and communities -- including the aboriginal family of the dead girl. This allows the viewer to take in a bird's eye view of the whole situation because there are so many character reactions to consider.

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