Analysis of Norman Rockwell’s Painting The Catch Essay

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What does one need to be happy? Is it a nice car? Maybe it's a new pair of shoes? What about success? What defines success and what does one need to be successful? The truth is, it depends on one's definition. Success can be defined in different ways. Success could be defined as being financially stable, or it could be something as simple as feeling accomplished with achieved goals. Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Catch” offers refreshing ideas on what it means to be happy and what one needs to be successful.

At first glance, Rockwell’s painting illustrates a successful day of fishing for three young friends, all of whom have their catch for the day strung in one hand and their fishing gear in the other. Out of the three boys in the
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Rockwell’s painting suggests the idea that money is not a determining factor in happiness.

Upon further examination of Rockwell’s portrait, the viewer starts to notice the smaller details and “tons of interesting objects” that are only noticed after examining the painting multiple times (Venezia, 31). One starts to notice the smaller details, such as quality of the boys’ clothes and what they are carrying. The happier boys lack pairs of shoes and have an abundance of holes in their clothing. The somber looking boy has a clean white shirt tucked into pants, a bow around his collar, and expensive looking fishing gear. After noting the appearance of all three boys, the viewer's eyes are drawn to the fish that the upscale boy is carrying. His one and only fish is small-not even half the size of any of the fish the other boys caught. The clean-cut boy in the center is unhappy and only has one measly fish to show for the day’s work. Meanwhile, the two underdressed boys are both carrying multiple fish of decent size in their hands. It is surprising that the boy with expensive fishing gear only has one small fish. Upon first glance, one would assume that the well-dressed boy would have been the most prosperous in catching the most fish. He has the most suitable fishing gear, but he did not end up being the most fortunate when it came to catching fish. Wallace Wattles, an American author who played a part in the self-help movement, and who wrote multiple works about
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