Throughout the story Chang Rae Lee uses water as a symbol, and it is reflected in the title. Fan’s journey takes her through the desert country side, and does not have a clear path. This reminded me of someone adrift at sea, hence the title. The style in which Lee writes the story also makes me of Fan being out at on the ocean. He uses very long slow building sentences, then fallows them up with several quick choppy deliberate sentences. This gives the reader a sense of riding a raft themselves, slowly going up and over waves, then coming down and dealing with choppy waters before being sent up over the next wave.
The story takes place in Baltimore, a city known for a historic and beautiful harbor. The harbor remains the city’s center for commerce and tourism, however the rest of the town has deteriorated into one of the nations most poverty and crime ridden city in America. I think Lee is saying that for Fan, and many others of B-More there is more hope out outside of the walls, in there is inside of them.
When examining the role of water as a symbol, we must examine water itself. In water, people are nearly weightless. In a future where everyone is bogged down in fear and economic limitations, this is significant. Often in dystopian novels, fire is used as a symbol for the ability to destroy and create a new, water also has this ability. Fire does so in a fast, uncontrolled way, destroying everything in its path. Water, in the case of erosion, is more deliberate,and controlled. When examining a potential revolution, or the tearing down of corrupt aspects of a society, this is important.