In "The Fish," how does the speaker seem to regard the fish that has been caught?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is of course a massive change that the speaker undergoes during the course of the poem with regards to his or her feelings towards the fish, however, the other question that I have just answered for you deals with this, so I will only focus on the way the speaker contemplates the fish at the beginning of this excellent poem.

If anything, the fish that the speaker has caught at the beginning of the poem is an animal that he or she feels immense pity or sadness for. Note how the fish is described in the following quote:

He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.

Adjectives such as "battered" and "venerable" and "homely" together with the description of his skin hanging "in strips / like ancient wallpaper" and his passive response to being caught seem to show that the speaker feels pity for the fish and also some kind of respect. The speaker seems to empathise and connect with the fish and its aged status, and only pities its poor condition because of its age. This of course prepares us for the shift in the speaker's thinking towards the fish that occurs later on in the poem.

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