In general, I think that the title and the meaning or saying yes or no go together. The story seems to revolve around the question of whether or not to do certain things, with often times one choice leaning towards disaster, or drowning. One of these main decisions is whether or not the main character should leave his town and get out. “The heat in the apartments was like something heavy that had come inside to die.” (pg.92) When he come into the apartment it’s like he brought part of the outside with him. “I’ll enter a room and she’ll stir, detaching herself from the cracking plaster walls, from the stained cabinets, and fright will pass through me like a wire.” (pg. 94) As if every time he manages some sort of escape from his binding surroundings, he then carries some of this back to his mom, who only leaves to go shopping on Saturdays.
The main character and his mother both are described as begin silent. “She had discovered the secret to silence: pouring caf? without a splash…crying without a sound” (pg. 94) and “without making a splash…everything below is whispers” (pg. 93) Drowning seems to represent being silent, not taking the initiative to do something else or vary from the norm. When someone dies from drowning, it is quiet, no one hears screams or pain. His teacher tells him that some of the students will “Going nowhere. He dropped his hand onto the desk. I could already see myself losing altitude, fading, the earth already spread out beneath me, hard and bright.” He thinks that he will be those kids that just “burn out.” This description is very much like drowning.
The secret is about his homosexual encounters with Beto. He never says yes to them, nor does he say no. He keeps silent, not making a decision, drowning in his lack of making a decision or taking the initiative.