Feed on

Carver does a remarkable job of inferring the connection between control in gender, as the beginning of the narrative starts out with the unidentified woman waitress asking her fat male customer “might I serve you?” as the fat customer replies that he is set to ORDER. Reading this surface level, the reader would consider this as a waitress just being polite and helpful to her customer, but as the narrative goes on, there is a sort of compulsion this woman has to help this customer, with a kind of inferred standard that it is the woman’s job to be serving the man (as this is seen again at the end of this narrative).
The narrative goes on with this unidentified woman preparing a salad for this fat customer. While at first look this is nothing but the starter course, the salad has been (and still is) viewed in association with something that women eat, or something that women can prepare (versus meat, which is a food that men prepare as it was in this narrative). In addition to this, salad is something that is viewed with weight loss, which is another part of ideal feminine identities (to be slim). This is brought up more when the unidentified waitress tells her fat customer “I’d like to gain,” but is reproached from this male customer as he replies that “If we had our choice, no. But there is no choice.” First, he is reinforcing the stereotype of females being slim and fragile (“dainty fingers poking in her hair”) vs. men being strong and masculine (“long, thick, creamy fingers”). In addition to this, he is stating that there one has no control over what happens to him, whether or not he tries.
I think what I find most disturbing in this piece is the use of vulgar sexual innuendos with the word fat relating to a man’s penis. This is seen with the description of the fat customer’s fingers, along with his orders made to this waitress. This can be inferred even more the snide remakes made, as Rita says “He’s not the kind of person you’d forget” (this could be referring to a man’s sexual performance) or when Rudy says “sounds to me your sweet on fat stuff.”
Revisiting the second paragraph, the topic of control is seen most at the end of the narrative, when Rudy has sex with this unidentified waitress, even though she doesn’t want it. Thus, she imagines herself being fat (symbolizing the lack of self-control she has) during sex. This reinforces the underlying message of men holding all of the control with women having to deal with this lack of control from the man.

One question that I do have is how this narrative ends. I am confused by it.

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