Esther Zamora Jon Schneiderman ENC1102-09 03/12/2013 Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” All battered and scarred from many years of trials, Grandma always has a smile on her face. Grandpa died when she was still young, her three sons have also died, and only her two daughters remain. In spite of these difficulties in her life, she manages to be happy and accepting of what life has tossed her way. An older person has scars from life and doesn’t have the strength to fight for it.
The elderly have gone through many trials and afflictions that life has tossed at them.
With age, they have gained wisdom and understanding through these hardships. Life has a tendency to cruelly throw darts at humanity without any kind of reservation or remorse. In Elisabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” the narrator is the fisher woman. Upon catching a tremendous fish and analyzing it carefully, she is reminded of her life. She notices the fish is not fighting to stay alive.
He just hung there, still, and ready to die. This reminds her of her own life. She is now faced with the memory of the many scars that life has brought her.
She’s not willing to fight as she once did. Age has really taken a toll on her, demanding her once youthful strength. The author speaks of the fish saying, “He hung a grunting weight, battered and vulnerable and homely” (7-9). The fisher woman found a similarity with her life and the fish’s life.
She made a distinct connection between her life and this small creature. Older and more experienced, the fisher woman is reminded of her past afflictions. Now old and gray which are signs of aging, as the fish’s lips that give away his age.
The lips are an important sign because the hooks and lines they have in their mouth demonstrates their experience. The fish in the poem declares “hung five pieces of fish- line” (51), showing how many times the fish had previously been caught and released again. Each line represents the many endeavors the fish had accomplished by conquering those hooks. As with people who overcome adversity and scars inhabit their life, the fish also has scars that remain as an indication of previous struggles. Wisdom and understanding is gained as things in life happen.
For the fish, he gains wisdom and understanding each time he escaped a net or a line which is shown by his scars. A person gains wisdom and understanding with the trials they are faced with and that age has brought them. These are reminders to people as well as for fish. A person may have loved ones who have passed away, or possibly experienced some kind of trauma. All these tribulations serve for gaining wisdom and understanding in life. In conclusion, the fisher woman, by looking and observing the fish closely, is reminded of all the previous trials she had in her life.
The scars in his lips, the “five-haired beard of wisdom” (62) helps her think of herself. She notices the rainbow of colors reflecting from the oil on the boat, reminding her of the fish’s accomplishments. Even though the fish is small, it somehow provokes a sense of relation with herself. She relates these attributes of the fish with maturity, adversity, trials, wisdom, and understanding. She encounters a close identification with the fish. Filled by this emotional connection and compassion for the fish, she let him go.