Breathing Underwater Essay

Everyone has control over his own actions. In Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, the main character, Nick, made several terrible mistakes that profoundly changed his life. He treated his girlfriend poorly, and eventually hit her. Nick is responsible for his own actions and should most definitely be held accountable for what he did, even though others in his life may have been bad influences, because in the end it was he who decided to hit Caitlin. The first reason Nick should be the only one blamed for his actions is simply because he is the only one who can control what his body does.

Hitting Caitlin, then, was no one’s fault but his own. He is sixteen years old and knew it was wrong because he eventually apologized, so there is no excuse for his assaulting of someone. Perhaps if it was an accident, his actions could be somewhat justified but he even gives a reason for hitting her by saying that she “betrayed him” and had “worn [him] out”. The fact that he even tries to justify what he did shows that he was well aware that he was hitting her, and should therefore be liable for the damage he did.

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A second reason that Nick should be held responsible for his actions and their consequences is because people told him what he had been doing was wrong. Throughout Nick and Caitlin’s relationship, he had always been controlling, and at one point, his best friend Tom confronted him about his actions. Tom told him he had been “acting weird” and should “be nicer to [Caitlin]”. This should have sent up a red flag in Nick’s brain telling him to change his ways, but instead he ignored the advice and his treatment of her eventually led to him beating her up.

Therefore Nick is even more responsible for what he did because he had a chance to change his ways when Tom let him know that what he was doing is wrong, but he failed to heed is warning. Now it may be possible to argue that Nick’s abusive behavior is a direct result of his father physically beating him throughout his life, but that certainly does not validate Nick’s actions. If anything, Nick should have learned from how his relationship with his father hurt him, and known that it was wrong. Also, Nick was not alone throughout this struggle and could have confided in his best friend Tom for advice regarding the situation.

Then perhaps he would have handled matters better. In fact, Nick even ponders whether “things would have turned out different” if he had confided in Tom. Nick eventually repents his actions and apologizes. Nevertheless he was the sole person to blame for his causing harm Caitlin. However, his experience turns out to repair his life in the long run after he goes to counseling and stands up to his father. Even though what Nick did was wrong, perhaps he needed to do something wrong in his life to realize how far from perfect it was and that he needed to change his ways.


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