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The Secret Goldfish

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Genevieve W.
The Secret Goldfish
Summary: I did not want to write a simple story about a little boy just buying a goldfish and hiding it. I know that Holden would probably like a story like that more, but I couldn’t resist writing an extravagant story with many of the same morals he believes in. I think, although it is very “over the top”, it accurately portrays some of the same ideas that a simpler story may have done too, but not in a way that would have been boring, as a simple story would have been.
Some of the things Holden values in his life are childhood innocence, consistency and things that are “good” in his eyes (Jane, Allie, etc.). The goldfish was a symbol of the main character’s (in this story) childhood. He bought the fish from a poor girl who understood the repression that the society forced upon them. That was a way for the main character to remember the repression and hold onto his youth. The goldfish was also consistent. It always swam in circles and always swam to the top when it was hungry, and that made the main character so happy when he did. Holden also appreciates and needs consistency. That’s why he visited the museum so often, because it never changed.
The goldfish also symbolized goodness and how it must be preserved to survive. The main character took carful care of the goldfish for seven years, not letting anyone know of its existence. The fish remained happy and made the main character happy because it was preserved and protected from the evil in the world. Holden feels the same way with protecting the good things in the world. He believes there is lots of evil in his world, and the good things, like Phoebe and other children should be sheltered from that.
Holden understands that most good things come to an end. I think he felt this when his brother Allie died, and he has let it warp his perspective since then. He is negative and cynical about everything he doesn’t like, because he is afraid to like anything. It might be taken away. He loves the things he does like though, like innocent little children and his siblings. (Not in that way.) The ending of this story proves that something good cannot last forever, and I think Holden would appreciate that when he is depressed. It dives deep into the truth of the reality that he is feeling, and I think he would appreciate someone (D.B., the writer) understanding that and exposing it in the tragic way that it was.
Lastly, I would like to elaborate a little bit on why I chose to write it in the setting that I did. Obviously, the values of the people that live in that society are different than the ones that we value in ours. The main character sees the goldfish as such an act of rebellion as well as his most prized possession, but to us, a fish is just a fish. It doesn’t matter to us as much, because we don’t live in a society like the one in my story. I used this element to try to point out the idea to the reader that Holden is not stupid or cynical because he’s a moron – he just values different things in different ways because of the society and influences on his life that he grew up with.





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