Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although the narrator says he thinks he and his girlfriend will get back together “because we have been together far too long not to come back together,” he has little confidence in his own prediction because this time “it was a little different.” His response is to get out of the house. Although his wildness has in the past necessitated escaping from domesticity, which may be associated here with the feminine (Marge goes back home to Virginia, a state that is symbolically feminine), the narrator has a desire for home and family, and the domesticity of his two fishing buddies is attractive to him.

In the course of the story one senses that male companionship is not sufficient. Part of what makes Jack and Kirby best friends, the narrator realizes, is that their wives are also each other’s best friends. None of the feminine figures alluded to in the story are actually present, but their absence prompts desire; they include Marge, Kirby’s and Jack’s wives (Tricia, who has made lunches for them, and Wendy), the missing Renee Jackson, the pregnant redfish, Kirby’s seven-month-old daughter (also named Kirby, which suggests a close father-daughter relationship), and Jack’s dental assistant (whose “bosoms” Kirby claims he can see when she leans over the dentist’s chair). Even one of the strawberry-colored artificial shrimp that they are using as bait looks “like a woman coming out of her slip.” Near the end of the story the...

(The entire section is 567 words.)