Burden Creek is a dead stream flowing through Burden Valley that brings in contaminants. This is, perhaps, a daily reminder of the death looming outside the confines of the valley. We witness the effect of the creek when Mr. Loomis arrives, and where he is not warned of the danger that lies within. The creek also symbolizes fatal egotism, where Ann uses it to block any intruders and strangers; it also keeps Faro away from discovering her hideout.
“He went swimming and took a bath in the dead stream, Burden Creek… I can see how he did it. He thought, not knowing the geography of the valley very well, that it was all the same stream. He did not know that there were two streams…” (O’Brien, 1975).
“Faro was swimming in Burden Creek. He had found my scent but, instead of following my trail on the rocks, he had plunged into the water…” (O’Brien, 1975).
“He slept beside me all night and was sick in the morning. I expected he would be sick for several days—I remembered the course of illness in Mr. Loomis—but I suppose dogs react differently from human beings, for by nightfall he was dead…” (O’Brien, 1975).
The creek is associated with Ann’s fears, which are both irrational and sometimes selfish. “Burden”, the initial tag, is used to symbolically portray the burden that people endure from their natural habitat. Again, how Ann allows the creek to poison both Mr. Loomis and Faro can be interpreted as her only opportunity for companionship being poisoned.