Themes and Techniques in "What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 715 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 715|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Exploring the Theme of Greed and Selfishness
  2. Human Connection and Loneliness
  3. The Consequences of Unintended Wishes
  4. Narrative Structure: Blurring Reality and Fantasy
  5. Satire and Social Commentary
  6. Symbolism: The Talking Goldfish
  7. Humor and Irony
  8. Cultural Context and Identity
  9. Conclusion: Reflecting on Themes and Narrative Techniques

In the realm of short stories, "What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?" by Etgar Keret stands as a captivating narrative that delves into themes of greed, human connection, unintended consequences, and more. Through the tale of a talking goldfish that grants wishes, Keret skillfully weaves a tapestry of emotions, desires, and reflections. This essay delves into the intricate web of themes and narrative techniques employed by the author to convey profound meanings that resonate beyond the story's surface.

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Exploring the Theme of Greed and Selfishness

The theme of greed serves as a foundational pillar of the story's narrative. Each character's encounter with the talking goldfish reveals their inherent selfish desires. The wishes they make are often motivated by personal gain, reflecting a disregard for the well-being of others or the consequences of their actions. This exploration of human greed invites readers to reflect on the pitfalls of pursuing self-interest without considering the broader implications for oneself and others.

Human Connection and Loneliness

Beneath the fantastical premise lies a theme of human connection and loneliness. The protagonist's interactions with the talking goldfish illuminate his sense of isolation and longing for genuine companionship. As the wishes unfold, it becomes evident that the characters' desires reflect deeper emotional needs. Through these interactions, the story highlights the universal human yearning for connection and the isolation that can result from unfulfilled emotional needs.

The Consequences of Unintended Wishes

The narrative is rich with instances of unintended consequences, a narrative technique that adds layers of complexity to the story. Characters' wishes lead to unexpected and often negative outcomes, underscoring the importance of thoughtful decision-making. This technique serves as a cautionary tale, reminding readers that choices made without careful consideration can have far-reaching effects, reshaping the course of one's life in ways unforeseen.

Narrative Structure: Blurring Reality and Fantasy

The narrative structure of "What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?" is a masterful blend of reality and fantasy. Keret expertly toggles between the ordinary and the extraordinary, blurring the lines between the mundane and the magical. This stylistic choice not only captures the reader's imagination but also reinforces the story's themes by grounding them in familiar contexts. The interplay between reality and fantasy adds depth to the narrative, inviting readers to contemplate the intersections of the two realms.

Satire and Social Commentary

Keret employs satire and social commentary as a lens through which to examine contemporary society's values and priorities. The characters' wishes reflect prevailing societal trends and materialistic aspirations. The story serves as a mirror that reflects the cultural emphasis on material gain and superficial desires. Through satire, Keret offers a critique of the shallowness of these pursuits, inviting readers to question the societal values that drive them.

Symbolism: The Talking Goldfish

The talking goldfish serves as a powerful symbol within the narrative. Beyond its fantastical nature, the goldfish becomes a catalyst for self-discovery and introspection. It prompts characters to confront their desires and motives, leading to moments of profound realization. The goldfish's role as a metaphor for the pursuit of desires underscores the story's exploration of human nature and the complexity of the human experience.

Humor and Irony

The narrative is peppered with humor and irony, which serve as integral components of the storytelling. Humorous elements lighten the narrative's tone while simultaneously enhancing its impact. The use of irony adds layers of meaning to characters' wishes and actions, inviting readers to engage in deeper contemplation. This blend of humor and irony elevates the story beyond a mere tale of wishes, transforming it into a multi-dimensional exploration of the human condition.

Cultural Context and Identity

Embedded within the narrative are cultural elements that anchor the story within the broader context of Israeli literature. These elements shape characters' motivations and choices, reflecting the unique cultural backdrop. The story's themes of desire, connection, and consequence resonate universally, offering readers from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to reflect on their own cultural contexts and personal experiences.

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Conclusion: Reflecting on Themes and Narrative Techniques

The tapestry of "What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?" is woven with threads of greed, connection, irony, and symbolism. Etgar Keret's masterful use of narrative techniques enriches the story's depth and resonance, inviting readers to contemplate its themes beyond the surface level. Through this analysis, we've unveiled how themes and narrative techniques converge to create a compelling narrative that explores the complexities of human nature, desires, and choices.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Themes and Techniques in “What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?”. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Themes and Techniques in “What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?”.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
Themes and Techniques in “What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Themes and Techniques in “What of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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