The Fish Questions and Answers
by Elizabeth Bishop

Start Your Free Trial

In the poem "The Fish" what is the poet's attitude towards the fish? Where does it change as the poem progresses?

Expert Answers info

busylittle1way eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3 answers

starTop subject is Literature

In her single-stanza poem, "The Fish," Elizabeth Bishop uses the speaker's increasing attention to the details of a fish to shift the speaker's perception of  and feelings about the fish. It's a lesson in how attention to details can grant subjectivity to a seemingly lifeless object -- in this case, a fish.

The speaker's relationship to the fish changes at two key points. First the speaker observes that "He didn't fight," and that in fact, "He hadn't fought at all." This observation sparks a curiosity for the speaker, who then continues to note the fish's bloody gill, and the barnacles which had lodged on the fish's skin along with seaweed. The speaker then begins to personify the fish through noting the bone structure and physique until he/she gets to the jaw where "hung five old pieces of fish-line...with all their five big hooks/grown firmly in its mouth." This is the second and more startling realization. The speaker realizes that the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 504 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12), Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Calvin University

bookM.A. from Dordt University

calendarEducator since 2014

write6,436 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial