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What is the crisis, in the poem "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop?crisis as it relates to...

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xoosusyoox | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2010 at 8:38 AM via web

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What is the crisis, in the poem "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop?

crisis as it relates to American crisis poems. Examples: Whitman's "As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life" the cirisis there was self individualization or Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in which the crisis is faith.

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted November 10, 2010 at 8:47 AM (Answer #1)

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That is an interesting question.  You will find extensive analysis of "The Fish" online, including an excellent e-notes analysis (see link below), but these sites do not directly answer your question.  In the poem, the speaker experiences an epiphany when there is "joy" in the boat and releases the fish at the end of the poem.  Prior to this the speaker sees and exults in the life of the fish--seeing something in the fish's life and liveliness that she (the speaker) can relate to.  The crisis, therefore, could be seen as what to do with the fish, perhaps especially at the moment where the indifferent fish refuses to return the speaker's gaze.  Once the speaker sees even more beauty and life in the fish--the five hooks, for example, as evidence of the fish's earlier struggles--she is no longer in doubt and releases the fish in joy.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted November 10, 2010 at 8:53 AM (Answer #2)

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The development of the rainbow colors in the boat represent the crisis, and the release of the fish is the climax of the narrative poem. The images are both ordinary and unusual, since it is the internal motion (the growth of the sense of victory) which pulls the reader into the poem’s movement and excitement. The rainbow, which is a floating oil stain, represents the shimmering excitement of victory to the speaker. and in a metaphor of Noah-ic proportions, the symbolism of God's power and strength of not producing another epic flood is contained in the speaker's release of the fish itself. The speaker has gained conscious awareness of humanity by releasing the fish.

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