DFW Wiki

"Forever Overhead"

From DFW Wiki

Summary

"Forever Overhead" is an account of a boy jumping off of the high board on his 13th birthday. The narrative, written in second person and directed to the boy, describes everything he is feeling, observing, and thinking as he climbs to the top of the board. He is going through the changes of puberty, and he chose to come to the pool for his 13th birthday because he wanted to jump off of the high board. The boy tries to suspend thinking so he can forget his fear of the diving board and jump. Towards the end, a shift in the narrative takes the boy out of time, and discussion of what will happen after the jump is written in the future tense rather than the present tense. The story ends with an enigmatic "Hello."

Characters

  • 13 year old boy
  • his parents and younger sister
  • the woman in front of him in the high board line
  • bald man behind him in line

Themes & Motifs

Themes

  • Awareness. Throughout the story, the boy is playing with the idea of awareness. At one point, he tries to suspend his thinking so that he won't be afraid to jump off the high board. He also briefly loses his awareness of time when he is on the diving board. Furthermore, while on the diving board it is communicated that "from overhead it is more real than anything" (14). This quote communicates a heightened awareness received by the boy once he 'masters' the board and reaches the point that so many others before him have.
  • Coming of Age - As the boy proceeds in his quest to jump off the high dive, he encounters time in various forms. Time as it appears in "Forever Overhead" is frequently described as a limited commodity. Discussing the ladder's handrails, one line states, "holding on takes time and alters the rhythm of the machine" (13). Throughout the story, time is experienced in conjunction with the machine motif, something which emphasizes the inescapability of each system. The second to last line urges the boy to "step into the skin and disappear"(16). The mentioned skin can be taken as a metaphor for the 'shedding of skin' that comes with growing out of youth and into adulthood.

Motifs

  • Motion -The pool is described as "a system of movement." The relationship between movement and stillness is explored throughout. One line states that "bees have to move very fast to stay still."
  • Puberty - The boy's new appreciation for women is emphasized several times. His growth of pubic hair is mentioned at the beginning.
  • Machine - The boy's journey up to the high dive is frequently referred to as a journey involving a machine. This 'machine' is better understood to be an explicatory avenue for the issue of time's inevitable passing.