Graham Swift's Waterland

1160 Words5 Pages
Graham Swift's Waterland In Graham Swift’s Waterland, Tom Crick says, “Children, it was one of your number, a curly-haired boy called Price… who once… asserted roundly that history was ‘a fairy-tale’… ‘What matters… is the here and now. Not the past… The only important thing about history, I think, sir, is that it’s got to the point where it’s probably about to end’”(6,7). It is very likely that we all have come to a point in our education, at one time or another, where we have encountered sentiments similar to those of Price. In most schools the subject of history is treated more or less in the same way- as a recounting of events, an examination of how the past has led to the present. This seems to be a good definition at first glance, but perhaps it is lacking in that it fails to account for the “here and now”(6). In Waterland Graham Swift not only addresses the problem of the fears his students face in the here and now, and the prospect of a nightmarish future; but, he also gives an unlikely solution in Tom Crick’s theory of history as explanation and personal story. The here and now, as well as the future, is very troubling in the eyes of Price: “Yes, the end of the world is on the cards again- maybe this time it’s for real… It’s the old, old feeling, that everything might amount to nothing”(269). This takes form in the possibility of nuclear holocaust: “all the buildings go red hot and then they go white and all the people go red too… And I’m walking around thinking it won’t ever be, it can’t ever be…”(297). So Price forms the Holocaust Club in order to cope with these fears: ç We want to pool people’s fear. Tell them not to hide it. Bring it out into the open. We want to say, it’s OK, show your fear, add it to ours... ... middle of paper ... ...stories”(298). The only way sometimes to cope with the fact of fear is in telling our stories. Crick asserts that “explaining… dodging the here and now… history, fairy tales- it helps eliminate fear”(241). Much like the ever present nuisance of silt, problems and crises will keep clogging up our lives; and “there’s no simple solution. We have to keep scooping, scooping up from the depths this remorseless stuff that time leaves behind”(346). While Tom Crick and Graham Swift present us with no easy solution, they do present us one. Though fear and problems are ever present, we can cope with them through our creating of history, of our own story. We inevitably have to bring our tale to a close. Though we may not know how we will do so, let us fill it not only with drama, but laughter, hope, dignity as well. Because, at the end of things, “Someone best explain”(358).
Open Document