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Waterland: Swift's Recursive Novel A Mosaic Of Histories And Patterns

920 words - 4 pages

Justin Wickett5/25/2004Swift's Recursive Novel: A Mosaic of Histories and PatternsThroughout history, repeating patterns can be seen and analyzed. This idea of history repeating itself is essential in the novel Waterland, where Graham Swift shifts back and forth between different time periods to help Tom Crick's students understand history through their own personal experiences and relationships and through Crick's own personal and ancestral history. While Tom Crick repeats his personal history to his class, Swift repeats certain patterns in the novel while using the recursive style of writing. By interweaving patterns between history lessons and childhood memories, Swift uses Waterland as an essential recursive styled novel incorporating key ideas about history such as learning from the past and trying to not repeat the misdoings, appreciating the past, and recognizing that history builds every second and carries significant meanings.As the novel starts off, Swift uses a pattern that shifts back and forth between the present tense, a period of time where Tom Crick teaches his class about history, and the past tense, where Tom Crick describes the Fens and other history along with his childhood. When Swift uses the recursive structure of his novel to create patterns to move in and out of, Tom Crick's students are able to learn the essentials of history and how it plays a role in everyone's lives by comparing the present to the past and questioning it. In order to teach his readers not to repeat the misdoings in history, Swift makes an example of Crick's life and shows to the reader how a simple mistake such as premarital sex led to confusion and hardships in the present. Swift's use of patterns from his recursive style of writing and history lessons taught by Crick allow Swift to get his point across to his readers that history is to be learned from and yet we should not repeat its misconducts.As the novel unfolds, Swift changes the patterns of his chapter layout. The reader notices two chapters talking about the past, followed by two chapters talking about the present. Along with the change in pattern, the chapters dedicated to describing Crick's past become a lot larger than the ones talking about the present. By doing this, Swift is trying to show the reader that the present is only a very small portion of our lives and that everything else is a part of the past, and therefore, we should learn to appreciate and learn from it. Due to the recursive style of writing, Swift is able to concentrate on past and then switch back to the present where he has Tom Crick explain to his students why the past is so important and essential to the...

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