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The fish is very ugly. It is described in such detail to give us a sense of its identity and therefore its value. The fish has been caught before and has, on five previous occasions, broken the line and gotten away. It is a fish of almost legendary prowess in the battle with its human enemies. The action of the fish is abrupt, but in the light of the fish’s unusual passivity (a fish hooked and pulled out of water fights and wiggles desperately) and its almost Olympian refusal to meet its captor’s eye, release is the only appropriate act. Letting the fish go signifies both the speaker’s respect for this old fighter and her realization that to have caught the fish is victory and achievement enough.
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