Dinner at the Center of the Earth Symbols & Objects

Englander, Nathan
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Fish

In Englander’s novel, the fish represents the human without agency. In Berlin in 2002, Farid and “Joshua” discuss the way to be successful. Farid claims, “You need fish to catch fish” (76). This statement implies the gullibility of people. Humans are fooled by false appearances, the same as fish are fooled by bait. Twelve years later, “Joshua,” now Prisoner Z, metaphorically calls himself a fish. He tells the guard: “Come in so I can show you from where the fish pees!” (153). Prisoner Z threatens the guard, but in the same sentence, implies his own lowly status by referring himself as a fish.

Birds and Flying

The bird signifies an entity whose wings can be clipped; in other words, birds are symbols for the ability for life to be caged. Englander writes, “Then, like that, came a sudden, simple shift in realities. The falconer reaching down and pulling...

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This section contains 852 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Dinner at the Center of the Earth Study Guide
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