Story Structure Analysis: Finding Nemo
In Pixar’s Finding Nemo, things begin with a clownfish named Marlin and his wife Coral picturing their new life together living in the Great Barrier Reef. Marlin had just gotten his new family a home, an anemone just at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef when tragedy struck. As Marlin and Coral speak about their future with their kids, a Barracuda appears face to face with Coral. Marlin can see her looking down at all her eggs and he warns her that they’ll be safe, but she doesn’t listen and dives down to protect them. The Barracuda attacks and knocks Marlin unconscious, he wakes up to find Coral missing and all, but one egg gone. They’d been eaten and Marlin promises the last remaining egg that he will protect him as long as he lives, calling this egg Nemo.
Fast forward a couple of years and it’s now time for Nemo to begin school, on his first day Marlin embarrasses Nemo by coddling him and being very overprotective. Nemo is so excited when he learns that he’ll be exploring the Great Barrier Reef with his teacher Mr. Ray who will carry him and all his other classmates on his back. Marlin lets him go but soon gets worried when he discovers that they’ll be going to the “drop-off”, a place where the Reef ends, and open ocean begins. Eager to prove to the other kids that he isn’t afraid, Nemo swims into the open ocean to touch the “butt”. Marlin soon arrives and warns Nemo not to take another step, but he continues on and touches the bottom of the boat. He turns to swim back triumphantly when a scuba diver scoops him up and takes him away.
How it works
Marlin is frantic and tries to chase after the boat, but he can’t keep up and begins to ask everyone if they’ve seen where the boat went. He runs into a blue Angelfish named Dory who claims to know where the boat went. He follows her but soon realizes that they’re swimming around aimlessly, furious he asks Dory what’s going on and she explains that she suffers from short term memory loss. As she is explaining this, a shark named Bruce forcefully takes Marlin and Dory to a meeting for addicts, a meeting for sharks who are trying to stop eating fish. While Bruce explains how his father abandoned him to a group of sharks, Marlin discovers a diver’s mask that he is sure belonged to Nemo’s captor with the name P. Sherman written on it. Dory accidentally cuts herself and begins to bleed, this causes Bruce to chase after her and Marlin. He chases them into a wrecked ship, and they escape, in the process setting off a mine explosion.
As that is happening Nemo is moved into P. Sherman’s fish tank, a dentist in Sydney and he meets his other tank mates. In total there are seven of them, the leader being Gill who insists that Nemo help them escape. They initiate Nemo into their group and soon plan their escape to help save Nemo from being given to the dentist’s niece, Darla, a little girl infamous for killing fish. The plan is for Nemo to clog the filter with a pebble so that the fish tank gets dirty and the dentist is forced to clean it. While the dentist is cleaning the fish tank, he’ll be forced to remove the fish from the tank and place them into plastic bags when they’ll throw themselves out the window onto the harbor below.
Back in the ocean, Dory encourages Marlin to “just keep swimming” to find the mask, they are in the depths of the ocean where it’s pitch black when they see a light. They are mesmerized and begin to follow it, soon spotting the mask. They realize that the “light” they’ve been following is actually an Anglerfish who starts terrorizing them. As they’re being chased, Dory is attempting to read the address on the mask and is thrilled when she finally gets it and remembers it. Marlin is frustrated with Dory’s memory lapse and talkative personality, he tells her that he’d rather travel alone. She begins to cry, and a school of fish hear her and take pity on her. The school of fish mock Marlin and told Dory where the East Australian Current is and how that’ll take them to Sydney. They warn Dory that there is a trench that they need to travel through instead of above to get to the current. Marlin had already gone off and didn’t hear this advice, and although Dory said she’d remember it, she didn’t. Marlin resists going through the trench and Dory tries to tell him that they should just travel through, but she couldn’t remember the details and followed him above the trench.