The key to interpreting this incident lies with the word “small.” There are at least three possibilities:
- “Small” refers not to the fish, but to the lad. There is, unfortunately, little textual evidence for this approach.
- “Small,” being a relative term, refers to the fish which, though large by some standards, would be considered small indeed compared to, say, a blue whale.
- “Small” refers not to the relative size of the fish but to their number — two.
Note: For each of these explanations, there remain a few unsolved logistical problems concerning the transportation of the lad’s lunch.