Big Fish, Little Fish by Italo Calvino

Prativa, Sarina and Chloe
And Angelique
Zeffirino goes fishing while his father collects clams. He comes
across a crying woman (named Signorina De Magistris) and
decides to catch different kinds of fishes to cheer her up. She
explains how her love affair had broken her heart. Later,
Zeffirino brings her different kinds of fish to attempt to stop her
While Zeffirino fishes, she gazes at the fish and realises the
importance of love.
• Zeffirino and Signorina De Magistris give us the meaning of
love and the betrayal it causes. Through all the wonderful
memories, there comes a time when affections would be
forgotten and will only be left as scars or wounds. But when we
linger on lost love for too long, it will only break us apart.
• “Big Fish, Little Fish” by Italo Calvino is a unique story that has
depth and a perspective about love. The woman Signorina De
Magistris, realises the way around love through the creatures of
the sea that Zeffirino shows her.
• Zeffirino values success and amusement. Once he’s found a
goal, he doesn’t want to stop until he reaches it. He shows this
when finding a colony of octopi while he’s searching for fish for
De Magistris and not one to ‘renounce a family of octopuses
already discovered’. To cheer De Magistris up, he seeks to find
something to amuse her, and since finding and hunting fish
amuse him he believes it will for her as well.
• “And in the gap between these fins the signorina saw a deep narrow
wound that had been there before the harpoons. A seagulls beak must
have bitten into the fishes back so sharply she could not understand why it
had not been killed. Who knows how long the perch had taken this agony
about with it?”
• This quote allows us to understand that Signorina De Magistris’
awareness of the pain and the injury of the fish are no different to her
own pain and injury of love
• “Zeffirino, who has just that second managed to dislodge a cuttlefish, put
his head out of the water and saw the fat woman with one of the
octopus’s tentacles reaching from her arm to take her by the throat.”
• “Up rushed a man armed a knife and began slashing blows down on the
octopus’s eye; he cut off it’s head almost clean.
• “When she came to herself she found the octopus cut in pieces”
• The octopus holds her down against her will. This is an interpretation of
love holding you down and if you don’t let go, love will eventually will
give you “slashing blows” and leave you “cut in pieces”
• The author may have experienced his own scars of love in the
past, just like Signorina De Magistris, and must feel deeply
about it. He thinks about the ways of love and how fragile it
really is – and the effects it can have on people.
• Throughout ‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ many literary techniques are
presented for the reader to analyse and interpret such as;
• Similes, alliteration, connotation, imagery, symbolism, characterisation,
• Our overall interpretation of Big Fish, Little Fish draws us back
to the author and his personal life. We feel that somehow, this
story connects to him and his past life. The many different kinds
of fish Zeffirino hands Signorina De Magistris could symbolise
the ‘Plenty of fish in the sea’ saying.
• This story demonstrates how things that may cheer you up, will
not cheer others up depending on their situation and yours.

similar documents