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The Secret Goldfish is the last story in the collection of the same name by David Means. All the stories allow readers to form their own conclusions on the fatalistic sentiments and disastrous outcomes in the stories in this set. However, in The Secret Goldfish, there is a glimmer of hope in the fish's "eternal hell." There is some kind of future, not only for the fish, next to the TV, but also for the family. The story is basically told from the perspective of the "wife" as she watches her marriage disintegrate. With hindsight, she recognizes the signs but her management of the fish and the tank reveal her inconsistent attempts or lack thereof, within her family environment.
Her descriptions of all things related to the fish speak of her attitude to her own situation. "The black hole of familial carelessness" indicates how neglect goes unrecognized for so long before it becomes something almost unmanageable and something very destructive, exerting a negative influence on everything around it. The fact that the marriage has fallen apart "abruptly" reveals the lack of awareness between the husband and wife during the last fifteen years. Their situation could be compared to that of the fish which started out with clean water and even a companion called Sammy. Sammy did not last but fish prevailed and the wife wonders about the "illusion" and whether the fish is aware of his circumstances; of being trapped, going round in circles or whether he is blissfully unaware. She now knows that she was doing the same and that realization came too late.
Her observations can be seen in her descriptions and her point of view is very subjective. For example, at the same time as the water begins to go "murky," so too are the lines of the marriage blurred. Just as no-one witnesses the fish's dilemma in the tank, so nobody noticed her building desperation or her attempts, albeit, half-hearted, to make a difference. Finding the fish healthy in the depths of the dirty tank gives her hope - perhaps that her marriage is also salvageable. Her renewed vigor is admirable and momentarily she is content. Her efforts, however, are, ultimately, meaningless.
The point of view expressed reveals the wife's confusion and her somewhat disconnected way of dealing with her own problems. Even the third person references still express her opinion. She does, however, find new purpose, away from the "murky mess" and gives fish and herself another chance.
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