Mickey was bobbing in the insistent roll of seawater...

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
Mickey was bobbing in the insistent roll of seawater, half unconscious, a foamy yellow fluid coming from his mouth. Eddie’s father swam to him, yelling into the wind.
(The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom)

Can please explain what "insistent roll of seawater" could mean? I've looked up "insistent" and "roll of" but it's still not clear. I have the feeling that he's just saying that the seawater was rough and demanding and it was moving them around.

What do you think?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    A roll of sea water refers to the rolling motion which creates waves, and by extension creates Mickey's bobbing motion. Insistent is hard to interpret - maybe the author means the sea is almost saying, "Get over here now, Eddie's father, there's someone in trouble here!" The author is using what is called pathetic fallacy: ascribing human feelings to the environment to dramatise the internal feelings of the characters.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thanks, scrotgrot and Biffo.

    Yes, "incessant" makes much more sense, but scrotgrot's explanation also seems plausible given the context.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    To me it seems an inspired choice: suggestive of the word incessant AND personifying the endlessly threatening waves.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't blink when I read insistent: 2 repeated and demanding attention.

    The rolling waves keep rolling repeatedly and they demand attention because of this action.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To me it seems an inspired choice: suggestive of the word incessant AND personifying the endlessly threatening waves.
    I don't blink when I read insistent: 2 repeated and demanding attention.

    The rolling waves keep rolling repeatedly and they demand attention because of this action.
    I'm still not convinced. Mickey was 'half unconscious, a foamy yellow fluid coming from his mouth'. Why were the personified waves trying to demand his attention? Did they want to wake him up?
    I'll leave my argument there.
     
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    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    To me this means waves crashing on the shore/breaking waves/breakers/rollers; the type that bowl you over each time you come up for breath – as though the sea is insisting that you don’t leave it.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The writer is personifying the sea, by saying that it is rolling its water forward in waves insistently: as if it is deliberately repeating the process.
    I believe he means the sea is insisting on the waves rolling in simply because that is what a sea does.
    Later in this passage, one of the waves helps wash the two men shorewards, so the author apparently does not mean that the sea is trying to keep what it has.
    Although the sea is personified and seen as insistent on doing its thing, it still seems indifferent to the human beings.
     
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