What is the theme of "The Secret Goldfish" by David Means?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Secret Goldfish” is a piece of short fiction written by New York writer David Means. The story is narrated by an unnamed woman whose husband has left her following an affair. The title character is a neglected, deformed goldfish that is overfed and lives in a murky tank. Fish was given to the children of the family who, now bored of it, have left it in the care of their mum.

When Fish first joined the family, Mum was unaware of the affair and Fish was taken care of.

He grew, until one afternoon… she went to Pet Universe and found a large tank and some water-prep drops and a filter unit… and a small figurine to keep the fish company.

But, following the news of the affair, Fish’s conditions began to deteriorate.

Shortly after that, the tank began to murk up.

The neglected goldfish is symbolic of the unhappy mum. However, the theme of the story is that anything can be overcome if you persevere and keep going.

Once Dad is gone, they’ll hold a small party to celebrate… that small pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel and visions of an existence…a better world for a fish.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial