Self discovery is, by nature of the words, discovery of oneself. In “Diving Into the Wreck” Adrienne Rich uses language to portray the theme of discovery through isolation. The first stanza use of the line “I put on” establishes the narrator as both powerful and alone with them completing this dive. The narrator then continues the permeating sense of isolation with the following line
“I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone”.
The beginning of line 8 once again uses “I” but contrast the narrator with Cousteau, a famous diver, making their solo trip in contrast sound difficult and non glamourous. However while Cousteau has an “assiduous team” the line break separates Cousteau from his team a making him alone in this poem even among his team. The end of the stanza once again emphasizes the narrators isolation with “but here alone” contrasting her difficult self discovery with Cousteau extravagant dive. While Cousteau has a team he is alone where the narrator being alone can be seen as humbling in contrast.
Then as the narrator begins her dive to explore the wreck she continues with her usage of I as follows “I came to explore the wreck”, ” the thing I came for.” Her exploration of the wreck can be seen as her exploration of her own trauma and self and how she alone can accomplish the self discovery needed. She alone examines the ship in careful detail.
When the narrator does switch from using I it is in describing her new form after her self discovery.
“And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
above the wreck.”
The use of we comes after the narrators description of themselves have changed and rather than represent we as a multitude of others it is used to transcribe their identity. We is neither female or male as the narrator transcends these concepts in their isolated self discovery.