Rex teaches Jeannette how to swim by literally forcing her to sink or swim after being thrown repeatedly into a sulfur spring while in the desert. How is this a methaphor for Jeannette's life so far?
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Jeannette's whole childhood was a series of events where she had to either deal with a chaotic and scary situation or suffer untold dangers. At one point, for example, she is asked to roast hot dogs without any lessons or supervision. She is badly burned.