Miss Brill

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Fried Whiting  Symbol Icon
The “fried whiting” – or a cooked fish – does not actually appear in the story as a physical entity, but the boy uses the image as a way to swiftly describe and dismiss Miss Brill. Thus, the fried whiting is invisible just as Miss Brill is in her society. The deadness of the fish (for it is cooked), in turn, expresses the irrelevance and nonexistence of Miss Brill for those around her – no one will miss her if she is not there. Additionally, a whiting fish is rather unattractive and, because it is common, unremarkable; this suggests how Miss Brill blends into her society: she is at once unseen and also undesirable.
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Fried Whiting Symbol Timeline in Miss Brill

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fried Whiting appears in Miss Brill. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Miss Brill
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
Delusion and Reality Theme Icon
Connectedness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
...the girl makes fun of Miss Brill’s fur coat and compares it to a “ fried whiting .” (full context)