Literature Annotations


Carver, Raymond
Fat


Genre Short Story (4 pp.)
KeywordsMarital Discord, Obesity
SummaryThis first person short story is narrated by a waitress who is describing to her friend, Rita, her experiences with a very obese and ugly man--and its effects on her relationship with her husband. She gives a detailed description of the fat man’s appearance, of his eating, and of his particularly kind nature. Then she describes her unfulfilling relationship with Rudy which now (after the fat man) seems wrong for her.
Commentary

The waitress experiences, through observing and talking with the fat man, the power of kindness and an awareness that there are some things one cannot control and other things one can. When the fat man says, "But there is no choice"--referring to his compulsive eating, he gives her the realization that she does have a choice--that she doesn’t have to stay with Rudy.

Later that night, the narrator suddenly feels fat when Rudy is having sex with her-- "so fat that Rudy is a tiny thing and hardly there at all." As usual, the sex is forced on her and not pleasant for her, but this time she feels much "bigger" than Rudy. Some of the issues and questions that can be addressed here are why the fat man refers to himself as "we," and what the fat man gives to the narrator.

SourceWhere I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories
PublisherRandom House: Vintage
Edition1989 (paperback)
Place PublishedNew York
Alternate SourceThe Tyranny of the Normal
Alternate PublisherKent State Univ. Press
Alternate Edition1996
Alternate EditorsCarol Donley & Sheryl Buckley
Place PublishedKent, Ohio
MiscellaneousFirst published in the collection of Carver stories, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (McGraw-Hill, 1963).
Annotated by Donley, Carol
Date of Entry 04/16/96
Last Revised 08/21/06