Big Fish

Big Fish


Daniel Wallace

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Themes and Colors
Ambition, Courage, and Personal Fulfilment Theme Icon
Truth, Myth, and Immortality Theme Icon
Love, Flaws, and Acceptance Theme Icon
The Redemptive Power of Laughter Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Big Fish, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Ambition, Courage, and Personal Fulfilment

Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish highlights the importance of facing challenges in order to achieve personal goals. In the novel, narrator William Bloom chronicles the life of his father, Edward Bloom, through a series of metaphorical short stories—or “tall tales,” as William calls them—that emphasize Edward’s determination and courage as he battles through life. The tales transfigure Edward’s personal challenges—such as leaving home, finding work, and finding love—into adventures involving beasts, giants, and other magical…

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Truth, Myth, and Immortality

In Big Fish, Edward Bloom transforms his life story into a series of metaphorical tales in order to teach his son, William, important life lessons. The tales depict Edward as a legendary hero who faces challenging adversaries (like giants and beasts) and overcomes them using his wits, charm, and strength. William narrates these stories to the reader while reflecting on his relationship with his father. William feels disconnected from his father, who prefers…

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Love, Flaws, and Acceptance

In Big Fish, William Bloom comes to terms with the fact that his father, Edward Bloom, is about to die of cancer. Before his illness, Edward was an adventurous man who spent most of his life on the road as a traveling salesman instead of staying at home with William and William’s mother, Sandra. William deeply loves his father, but he is frustrated because he thinks Edward has been an absent father…

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The Redemptive Power of Laughter

Big Fish’s narrator, William Bloom, tells the story of his father Edward Bloom’s life while coming to terms with Edward’s death from cancer. Edward is a lighthearted man who hates serious conversation and prefers to crack jokes. This tendency frustrates William immensely, because he thinks Edward uses jokes to avoid having meaningful conversation. Edward won’t even take his own death seriously, and he cracks jokes until his dying moment. As the story progresses…

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