Big Fish Summary & Study Guide

Daniel Wallace
This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Big Fish.
This section contains 521 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Big Fish Summary & Study Guide Description

Big Fish Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Big Fish by Daniel Wallace.

The following version of this book was used to create this study: Wallace, Daniel. Big Fish. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1998.

Big Fish follows the life of Edward Bloom as narrated by his son William. Because Edward’s personal anecdotes were always seemingly exaggerated or fabricated, William has only these tales with which to tell his father’s story. In the present, William watches as Edward slowly dies of a terminal illness. Edward was born in the small, rural town of Ashland, Alabama. As a boy, Edward excelled in all of his academic and athletic endeavors. He eventually left Ashland, married, and became successful by founding and operating his own import-/export business. Edward loved to travel for work, and so he was often absent as a husband and father.

Edward left Ashland at the age of 17, and he supposedly passed through a strange town guarded by a vicious dog that disallowed the residents from ever leaving. However, the dog allowed Edward to pass through. As a young man, Edward briefly worked for the owner of a general store before leaving to go to college at Auburn University. There, Edward helped an old woman retrieve her glass eye, which was stolen by a group of mean students. Edward then fell in love with a fellow student named Sandra Templeton. After Edward and Sandra began dating, Edward was attacked by Don Price, and angry suitor of Sandra’s. Edward managed to subdue Don. Edward and Sandra graduated, married, and moved to Birmingham, where Edward made a living performing various menial jobs. During World War Two, Edward enlisted in the U.S. Navy and fortunately survived the various dangers he encountered.

During the present, as Edward slowly succumbs to his terminal illness, William regularly converses with Edward. William is desperate for Edward to give a straightforward account of his life, but Edward seems unwilling and/or unable to do so. Edward says that personal stories can still be valuable even if they are not literally factual. William then recalls events from his own boyhood. Edward generally seemed like a mythical and mysterious figure to young William. Edward wished to instill values of greatness in William. Unfortunately, Edward’s frequent, sustained absences from the home caused some distance and dysfunction within the family, although Edward did often perform kindnesses towards people he met on his travels.

Once, during a period of particularly strong familial dysfunction, Edward left on a trip and found a small, beautiful town called Specter. Edward bought all of the property in Specter so that he could preserve town, and life in it, just as he had found it. He fell in love with Jenny Hill, a resident of the town, and they had an extended relationship. However, Edward eventually returned to Sandra, leaving Jenny heartbroken. In the present, Edward’s condition worsens, and he nears death. Edward asks William to take him out of the hospital and down by the river. William does so and says that after he placed Edward in the water, Edward transformed into a fish and then swam away to have further adventures.

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This section contains 521 words
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