The ocean, or really any large body of water, is usually a symbol for freedom. I'm not an expert on this or anything, but in The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Edna Pontellier committed suicide by drowning herself in the ocean, therefore being freed from her ennui in her gender role as a woman in the 19th century. In the television show LOST (shut up) the characters were trapped on an island, the ocean being the main thing separating them from the rest of the world. In my novel (which I am editing) Nighttime in an Unfamiliar Place, the Trinity River in Texas symbolizes the characters letting go of the things that have held them back; for example, one character dumps his dead father's ashes into the river. In my other novel (a work in progress) Fate's Advocate, the main character is a lifeguard, who tries to commit suicide in the ocean. I'm sure there are dozens and dozens of other examples I could give, but I think that's enough.
The vastness of the ocean, and the currents that just drag you along, gives it a don't-worry-be-happy type of feel to it. You can't see the end of the ocean, nor the bottom of it. Floating out to sea, you are in isolation, so you are forced to let go of all your problems and just go along for the ride. Suicide by drowning, while probably extremely painful, is symbolic in that the person is being freed from their world and their body, letting nature do its thing, and floating out alone into the largest, most unexplored part of the earth.
I chose the title "From Sea to Shining Sea" because the United States was founded upon the idea of freedom, and this phrase, a lyric in a patriotic song, reveals the symbolism.
Can you guys think of any other examples of the symbolism of the ocean as freedom or any other reasons why this may be so? Or do you think it represents something else?