She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.
This quotation, which occurs during Clarissa’s shopping expedition when she pauses for a moment to look at the omnibuses in Piccadilly, emphasizes the contrast between the busyness of public life and the quiet privacy of the soul. Clarissa, even when she is walking in the crowded city streets, contemplates the essential loneliness of life. The image of water acts much like the image of the sun in the novel. The sun beats down constantly, sometimes creating a wonderful feeling of warmth, sometimes scorching unbearably. The rhythmic movement of the sea’s waves is similar. Sometimes the cyclical movement is breathtaking, while sometimes it threatens to drown whoever is too weak to endure the pressure, such as Lady Bradshaw or Septimus. Each person faces these same elements, which seems to join humans in their struggle. However, everyone is ultimately alone in the sea of life and must try to stay afloat the best they can. Despite the perpetual movement and activity of a large city like London, loneliness is everywhere.
Clarissa’s reflection occurs directly after she considers her old friend Peter, who has failed to fulfill the dreams of his youth. As Clarissa ages, she finds it more difficult to know anybody, which makes her feel solitary. She hesitates to define even herself. Failing, becoming overwhelmed by the pressures of life, and drowning are far too easy. Clarissa is fifty-two, she’s lived through a war, and her experiences amplify the dangers of living and of facing the world and other people.