July 13, 2014
Fish Like Me
In the story,"The Secret Goldfish," by David Means, a nameless despondent woman is submerged in suburbia, drowning in a dissatisfying marriage. The story reflects on the social norms and stereotypical gender roles that influence her life and her unrealistic expectations for marriage. Despite her languishing in domestic monotony, the compelling lure of the amnesiac sirens of enculturation have her convinced that it is supposed to be her path to fulfillment. Means presents the subtle evolution and irrational depths of cultural traditions that sustain the antiquated institution of marriage through her and her family. Furthermore, dehumanizing women by depicting their depersonalization through symbolic fish, David Means argues that the traditional gender roles in marital suburban domesticity causes identity theft, which is inherently demoralizing and unsuccessful in sustaining a relationship.
Means portrays enculturation as the culprit for the legacy of condemned dissociative domestic life.
The seemingly hopeless housewife has a failing marriage just like her mother. Her childhood fish, "Fred," which might symbolize her idealization of her mom's domesticity, is "slopped" (398) into "Grayling Pond" by her father:
Hope you survive, Fred, her father had said as he slopped the fish out of the pail and into the pond. She did not forget the sight of her beloved fish as he slipped from the lip of the bucket and rode the glassine tube of water into the pondÃ¢ÂÂ¦Dumbest animals on earth, she remembered her father adding. Nothing dumber than a carpÃ¢ÂÂ¦Except maybeÃ¢ÂÂ¦your goddam[n] mother. Not long after that afternoonÃ¢ÂÂ¦her father left the houseÃ¢ÂÂ¦Gone for good, her mother said. (398)
The act of her father dumping "Fred" in a place described as a "gray" "hole" dug by DNR suggests the metaphorical burial of his marriage. Fred represents...