What is one example of symbolism in "Rumble Fish" by S.E. Hinton?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of the Susan E. Hinton teen novel serves symbolically on several levels. "Rumble fish" is the term that the Motorcycle Boy uses for the Siamese fighting fish that he admires in Mr. Dobson's pet store. Siamese fighting fish must be kept apart from one another because, according to Rusty-James' brother,

"They try to kill each other. If you leaned a mirror against the bowl they'd kill themselves trying to fight their own reflection."

The Motorcycle Boy recognizes that the rumble fish are not unlike the gang members with whom Rusty-James associates--the violence that the Motorcycle Boy has tried to escape. The Motorcycle Boy wonders aloud if the fish would "act that way in the river." When he steals the fish from the store in the hopes of releasing them in the river, it is his hope that their new-found freedom will change their ways in a new environment--just as he has changed during he time away from the gang violence in Tulsa.