Feed on

Raymond Carver’s story “Fat” is a curious one from start to finish, both in plot and in writing style, but there is one element that stuck out to me particularly – the fat man referring to himself as “we.” Upon greeting the narrator, the man says, “I think we’re ready to order now” and the narrator comments that “he has this way of speaking – strange, don’t you know” (64). This seems to be the only comment she makes in regard to the “we,” despite the man referring to himself that way constantly throughout the rest of the story. The narrator does not seem to suggest that this way of speaking is important to the story she is telling, but it stands out nonetheless. One analysis I read suggested that the use of the word “we” meant that the man is connecting himself with the narrator. This could explain the narrator’s reaction to her body at the end of the story. “When he gets on me,” she says, “I suddenly feel I am fat. I feel I am terrifically fat, so fat that Rudy is a tiny thing and hardly there at all” (69). She then tells Rita that she is depressed but that she won’t go into the situation with her. Perhaps the reason she chose to tell the story about the fat man was a way of suggesting to her friends that she felt fat and was insecure about herself. She might feel that her friends reactions to the fat man would be similar to how they reacted to her if she was or if she became fat. Rudy, for example, makes jokes about the man, and the narrator tells him, “Rudy, he is fat, but that is not the whole story” (68). Here she defends the man and maybe herself as well. This follows along with the idea that people sometimes project onto others what they cannot accept about themselves. The narrator does not want to face her insecurities about her weight, so she tells an elaborate story about this man who, other than calling himself “we” and being extremely overweight, is nothing out of the ordinary. Her friends’ negative reactions then cause her to react negatively about herself.

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