Miss Brill


Katherine Mansfield

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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.

Fried Whiting Quotes in Miss Brill

The Miss Brill quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fried Whiting. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Miss Brill published in 1991.
Miss Brill Quotes

“Why does she come here at all—who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”
“It’s her fu-ur which is so funny,” giggled the girl. “It’s exactly like a fried whiting.”

Related Characters: Boy and Girl (speaker), Miss Brill
Page Number: 302
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Miss Brill LitChart as a printable PDF.
Miss Brill PDF

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)