#914-916 – i’d never go in the water

Lots of discussion on this one, as I guess any comic involving parental friction might've had. This is a memory Eve is revisiting, one she might not have remembered or remembered differently. How relevant is it to the story? It shows Eve's propensity to wander and indulge her curiosity, and her mother's urgency to suppress this and impose fear. There is a dual avoidance and attraction to pain - even as her mother strives for safety and order, she has the reckless impulse to drown. Eve recognizes that her mother isn't fully making sense, and this complicates her sense of attachment, so that she can only conclude her mother must hate her. She will (much) later realize the pain her mother felt, and how similar the two of them are. In the final panels Eve is meant to be thinking, not saying this to her mother. It's this thought that now hits her the hardest.

I don't know how cogent an explanation this is; truthfully a lot of it just felt right in my guts, and I think about it a little differently every time I read it.

10 thoughts on “#914-916 – i’d never go in the water

  1. Whoa. A lot of emotions going on here…

    I don't remember this strip!

  2. I've always liked panel 9 because Eve's eye roll and sarcasm feel real to me. Of course she discounts the idea that she'd get kidnapped or drown, because she knows she hasn't been kidnapped or drowned. But her mother didn't know that, and it's a perfectly justifiable fear, because kids DO get kidnapped and (more frequently) drown.

    The shift from terror, to relief, to fury on Eve's mom's part also feels very real, as does child-Eve's complete inability to understand it.

  3. i still remember reading this for the first time and the reveal (at least it seemed like a reveal to me at the time) that eve's beach memories had more to do with her mom than with park still hits home for me. i think in many cases a lot of growing up can involve a lot of missed connections with your parents, looking back and thinking of them at the age that you are now and knowing that you'll never quite line up with them in understanding. this may be kind of a ramble but its what i thought of when i read the commentary

    1. I always thought of Park as her starfish … the one that got away.

  4. John F. MacMichael

    This reminds me of Belloc's sardonic little rhyme: "Always keep tight hold of Nurse/for fear of finding something worse."

  5. Remember folks: Let beach and tidepool wildlife go free! Reckless gathering by humans can wreak havoc on shoreline ecosystems. That starfish might now have gone on to reproduce and later itself been sustenance for a hungry crab or fish.

  6. As Calvin's dad said once, Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time. This is the perfect representation of that.

  7. This was the hugest page for me of the whole story when it came around. The way we'd all thought the recurring dream was about this jerky guy, which inflated his importance, when it was actually about something so much more primal, the original relationship. How proud baby Eve is for a second that she thinks her mom recognizes her ability to take care of herself. How relatably her mom is scrabbling for control by denying her the starfish that she can't really take home anyway. The volumes conveyed by their identical grumpy stomps. How Eve hears "I was ready to die trying to save you," and glides right by it, and seconds later, in childish logic, turns it into "You probably wouldn't care if you never saw me again." But at center just this pivot from it being a story about sexual entanglements to a story about family, how much sense it suddenly made, and how we'd misconstrued along with Eve the whole time what she was trying to really find. Right in all the feels.

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