Out of My Mind


Sharon Draper

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Fish  Symbol Icon

Ollie, Melody’s pet goldfish who is stuck swimming circles in his bowl, reminds Melody of the way she is trapped in her own body. Just like Melody, he can open and close his mouth but can’t say a word. Eventually, Ollie jumps out of his bowl, which leads Melody to assume he’s fed up with his life. The covers of many editions of Out of My Mind have a picture of a goldfish leaping out of its bowl, which partially refers to Ollie, but also to Melody, who dreams of expressing herself and escaping the confines of her body. Melody’s inability to save Ollie when he jumps out of his bowl also symbolizes Melody’s general feelings of powerlessness. Worried that her fish will die, Melody can’t put him back in, and she can’t explain to her Mom what has happened. Melody often has difficulty communicating thoughts and emotions she urgently feels, from wanting to get a Happy Meal to trying to warn her mother that Penny has run out behind their car.

Fish Quotes in Out of My Mind

The Out of My Mind quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fish . 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:
Disability and Ability Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Out of My Mind published in 2012.
Chapter 5 Quotes

There’s an alphabet strip at the top, so I can spell out words, and a row of numbers under that, so I can count or say how many or talk about time. But for the majority of my life, I’ve had the communication tools of a little kid on my board. It’s no wonder everybody thinks I’m retarded. I hate that word, by the way. Retarded.
I like all the kids in room H-5, and I understand their situations better than anybody, but there’s nobody else like me. It’s like I live in a cage with no door and no key. And I have no way to tell someone how to get me out.

Related Characters: Melody Brooks (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fish
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Ollie spent all day long swimming around that small bowl, ducking through the fake log, and then swimming around again. He always swam in the same direction. The only time he’d change his course was when Mom dropped a few grains of fish food into his bowl each morning and evening. I’d watch him gobble the food, then poop it out, then swim around and around once again. I felt sorry for him.
At least I got to go outside and to the store and to school. Ollie just swam in a circle all day. I wondered if fish ever slept. But any time I woke up in the middle of the night, Ollie was still swimming, his little mouth opening and closing like he was trying to say something.

Related Characters: Melody Brooks (speaker), Ollie
Related Symbols: Fish
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Out of My Mind LitChart as a printable PDF.
Out of My Mind PDF

Fish Symbol Timeline in Out of My Mind

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fish appears in Out of My Mind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Disability and Ability Theme Icon
Language, Communication, and Identity Theme Icon
When Melody was five years old she got a goldfish named Ollie. Melody believed that Ollie’s life was even worse than hers was. All he... (full context)
Chapter 31
Language, Communication, and Identity Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...saying that she would miss Melody, as would her parents. Melody also remembers Ollie, her goldfish, whom she was unable to save when he jumped out of his bowl. (full context)