Throughout “ Titanic Survivors Found in Bermuda Triangle,” water is used to symbolize Margaret’s fear of being touched. This is made most obvious in the segment of the story describing her trip to Venice. The trip itself is a quick diversion: she leaves London, goes to Venice, and is quickly back in London. It is not important to the plot, but it offers great symbolic significance. In Venice, as Margaret describes it, she found herself unable to bathe naked in a tub of water, overcome with shame at her own body. This aversion to water becomes even more poignant when she recoils in terror at finding that, due to high tide and/or a storm at sea, the Piazza San Marco is covered with overflow from the canals. She flees to America immediately thereafter, only to find herself faced with the prospect of drowning in the North Atlantic.
In the end, Butler uses the fear of water to show that Margaret has discovered a willingness to be free and open with her body. Having earlier mentioned a fear of the bathtub in her hotel room, she finally fills the tub and slips into the water. This willingness to submerge herself corresponds with her willingness to accept the idea that she actually does want to open herself up to the man she met on the ship that night.
First Person Point of View
Readers may find this story difficult to follow because the first-person point of view restricts the narrative and takes them from one time frame to another without explaining what is going on. The story takes place within Margaret’s head and is placed so deeply within her consciousness that it does not identify places where one thought leads to another. Because the background is not established for specific scenes, readers have to interpret the clues around them in order to figure out what is going on. The basic premise of the piece, that it is the story of a person who was on the Titanic has been transported to modern times through the magic of the Bermuda Triangle, is suggested in the title, but the order within the story is only dictated by Margaret private review of events.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 22, Robert Olen Butler, Published by Gale Group, 2010