Yet, this is just a beginning of all hardships this family encounters within the new regime. As Hailu has two sons, they have different views on the political situation in the country. While Dewitt is willing to protest against the old and then against the new power, his father and his other brother view the rule by the Emperor as an acceptable option. Later, however, they are all involved in this struggle for truth. While Dewitt is engaged directly in the street protests, Hailu oppresses the Derg too, morally. It is clear why. Just after the military coup, the country expected a spring of political world. However, the Derb failed the expectations and started to rule in a neo-Stalinist era. They kill the officials of the previous power and some intellectuals without any at least trivial trial. Hailu comes to support his son and eventually finds himself on the verge of being arrested. The outstanding doctor is going to be arrested and imprisoned just because he is reported to have saved a victim of the torture from the upcoming torture by letting her die. Other members of the family suffer as well. Once a friendly family, it is broken in the new times. It usually happens that collections of stories or essays bear the title of one work from the book. However, this is not the case with Julie Orringer’s How to Breathe Underwater. This title does not belong to any of the short stories, but seems to have been deliberately chosen by Orringer to convey the message of hardship, of challenges, and need to survive prior to the reader’s reading experience. In my view, How to Breathe Under the Water is a very strong title since it is almost impossible to breathe under the water unless one is specially equipped to do so. So it may refer to how to survive in conditions that are not fit for survival.
The Theme of Family in the Novel Beneath Lion’s Gaze the Explanation How the Title Informs the Book How to Breathe Underwater and the Theme Between Cultures in Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand