In Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish, the main character Edward Bloom is obsessed with water throughout his life. Water is the central theme of the novel, and it symbolizes the abundant life in which there are numerous possibilities of places to explore, challenges to face, people to meet, and ways to grow. Swimming, which also plays an essential role in the novel, symbolized the way of living this life. Bloom sees himself as a big fish that does not want to be limited by the small pound and instead looks for the larger place to swim in and where he can grow. This shows that he acknowledges his ambitions and desire for personal growth and wants to level up his skills and seek challenges continually. Even when he can no longer swim, fighting with cancer, he wants to drink water as it reminds him of feeling alive. The tactile experience of sipping water is the same for him as swimming. In the first chapter of the book, Wallace describes the day when Edward Bloom was born. He says that the day was hot and there was no water. Then he says, “the day he was born, things changed…The day Edward Bloom was born, it rained” (Wallace 2). It is a crucial moment in the book because it shows when Bloom’s connection with water was established. Other than water, the element of symbolism in the book is the witch, a misunderstood woman who lives in the town near the swamp. The witch is a representation of the society that rejected transgressive femininity. The woman symbolizes the dark magic and power of prophecy. Another element of symbolism is Spectre, a town in which Edward finds himself as he travels through the forest. The city is cut from the rest of society but still manages to sustain a high level of harmony and prosperity. Spectre symbolizes the heavenly place where there is nothing to worry about, and all wishes are met. It is also symbolic of complacency that people experience there. It means that residents are happy with their isolation and ways of life.
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Wallace, Daniel. Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2012.