The Mathematics Enthusiast


Sean Chorney






In the 2003 Pixar animation Finding Nemo, a clownfish named Marlin is an overprotective father, and for good reason: he has recently gone through the trauma of losing both his wife and all their fertilized eggs save one. Nemo is his only remaining offspring, a son. On Nemo’s first day of school, he gets caught in a fishing net and is taken far away. Marlin spends the rest of the movie looking for Nemo. He gets to know a variety characters in his search, some providing comic relief, some providing leads. But in each interaction Marlin learns a more about himself, in particular, that he is too fearful and too protective. For some, Finding Nemo is about Nemo; for others, it is about Marlin. That is, instead of Marlin providing a subplot, he provides the central story. Finding Nemo is about Marlin’s personal journey of overcoming the trauma of losing his wife and almost-children. To give even more of a twist to a seemingly benign movie, there is a theory bouncing around on the Internet that Marlin imagines Nemo and everything that happens in the movie is only imagined. That is, he makes up Nemo to cope with his loss. This theory has some merit as Nemo means “nobody” in Latin. Amir D. Aczel is a professor of statistics. He has a doctorate

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University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library