John Grisham's A Painted House

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The words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Water, water, everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink” (121-22) might well be applied to John Grisham’s A Painted House (despite the fact there was ample drinking water) because of the prominence of water in the novel. From the water pump in the Chandler’s yard (Grisham 20) to the demand of Hank Spruill to Luke Chandler for a drink of cold water (46-47) to the constant drone of the farmers about “rain, rain, rain,” (323), this monograph is filled with water. The most conspicuous water, however, is the St. Francis River and its tributary, Siler’s Creek. Since time immemorial, “water [has been recognized] as the preeminent symbol associated with creation, fertility, rebirth, renewal, [and] good harvests” (Stowkowski 25). Grisham, however, stretches the symbolic meaning of the waters to include things far beyond these that have been traditionally associated with them. Like many other aspects of the South, these bodies of water are two-faced, having both attractive and unattractive visages; they symbolize both positive and negative aspects (Osthaus 750). The river and creek separate but also bring together. The river separates by serving as a boundary, in Luke’s words, for “our side of the river” (Grisham 184). “Siler’s Creek,” observes Luke, “ran along the northern boundary of our farm” (127). Things were different once the boundary was crossed. The world on the other side was dangerous; in contradistinction, there was safety on the

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