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I’ve seen monsters rise from the belly of the deep when it’s only a big fish leaping into the air. (p. 427)

Mary Morris’ short story “The Lifeguard” addresses the theme of death through the protagonist’s job of a lifeguard. The lifeguard, who is prepared for disasters that can occur within the ocean, even takes precautions to avoid experiencing lifeguard mirages by engaging with the girls of summer. The girls keep him from fixating on the ocean, and give him a momentary break of attention. Eventually, he asks a girl to the movies, which leads him into asking about her brother, who drowned in the ocean. His excuse had been to make sure it doesn’t happen again, in reality he wanted to know what it was like to die, from someone who was closer to experiencing death than he was at that time.

I was head lifeguard on the beach at Pirates Point. I don’t think real pirates ever landed there, but the name made me think that strange and mysterious things could happen right where I lived. (p. 425)

The quote from page 427 correlates to the pirates mentioned on page 425; pirates often experienced sea mirages, causing them to see sea monsters and beasts in the water. Soon the lifeguard finds himself unprepared when they do happen on land, and eventually breaks down due to his inability to understand death and prevent it.

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