The gravity of guilt can gain weight as it rests on your shoulders. You can live your life with a perpetually growing weight upon your shoulders, and burdening your soul. Some choose to surrender themselves, but some disburden themselves of the weight. The get rid of the weight by disclosing their story to someone, and admitting the truth. Anita Shreve’s “the Weight of Water” reveals a character that has waited many years to tell her story, finally, alleviating her guilt.
The Weight of Water is set on Smuttynose Island, where Jean Jane, a photographer, has come to collect information about a never truly solved murder of 2 Norwegian women. Brining family and friends, Jean sets out to find out the legitimate story of Anethe Christensen’s and Karen Christensen’s murder. In her investigation, Jean discovers a journal from Maren Christensen/ Hontvedt that contains every single detail of the murder. Describing the before, during, and after of the murder that occurred on March 5, 1873. While learning about this murder, Jean faces similar challenges as Maren did, with her husband, family and friends. Not only are these challenges emotionally affective for the readers, the characters come to life, and tell you their story. Shreve manages to develop her characters well with excellent descriptions, as well as providing the reader with hints about the characters through their dialogue and actions. An example would be the introduction of Rich: “He gives me the impression that accepting the dampness, even taking a certain pleasure in it, is an indication of character.” (Page 5) Jean is describing her first perception of Rich; which is that he is an accepting person. The characters’ actions and dialogue also displays real life situations, making the characters much more believable. An example would be as Thomas’ love for Jean fades, then falls in love with Adeline; change of heart is something all humans do.
The setting is also described very realistically, and is important for this novel because of the events which occurred on the island hundreds of years ago. Not only does it give a place for the events to occur, but it administers the mood of despair. Shreve portrays Smuttynose Island as a plain island with nothing but rocks, and ocean. Maren describes it as “…such sad desolate place! Lumps of rock that had barely managed to rise above the water line…” (Page 123), giving the readers an idea of how isolated the island is.
However, not only is Maren’s opinion of the island provided for the reader, Jean’s is as well. Shreve scintillatingly uses both Maren’s and Jean’s first person point of view, which adds to how affective the novel is constructed by a climax leading to final answer. Shreve makes a creative, complex and descriptive use of details, while not overusing any particular phrases to distract the reader from the story. Nor does she use any slang, dialect or any non-standard English for effect, but leaves it to her vivid and original imagery. An...