English / Peter Carey'S The Fat Man In History

Peter Carey'S The Fat Man In History

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Autor:  anton  28 October 2010
Tags:  Careys,  History
Words: 707   |   Pages: 3
Views: 292

Peter Carey’s The Fat Man in History

By Michael Huynh

Entrapment and Isolation are common attributes of characters throughout several of the stories in The Fat Man in History. This comes across in many forms, both physical and mental. In most of the stories both entrapment and isolation often the result of the interaction of both. Stories which this theme is apparent are Crabs, Windmill in the West, and A Report on the Shadow Industry. In all of these stories characters are both entrapped and isolated by their behaviour and environment. They are not totally entrapped or isolated in all situations as they can change their behaviour to avoid this, however some of the stories depicting characters isolated or entrapped by their environment have less choice in their situation.

Crabs was one of the stories where the isolation and entrapment were results of behaviour but later involved environment. The setting we are introduced to is one of isolation portrayed by the every man for himself world. Car owners were the prey of both Karboys and Police with support from no one against these forces. Crabs could have avoided this by having car that was less of a target, or not having a car at all, even though this would have been a difficult sacrifice. This isolation was the cause for his physical entrapment in the drive-in. During his entrapment in the drive in a further isolation was endured by Crabs. His choice of solitude was brought on by himself however, as he had become bored with the world around him. Crabs and the people in the drive-in further this entrapment by their lack of attempts to escape, or their ultra conformity to their situation. This entrapment of having no where to go is also featured in Windmill in the West, however it is a different set of circumstances.

In Windmill in the West the soldier experiences isolation by his location and lack of information, “there was no orientation brief, no maps”. He is so far from anything for him to possibly have contact with that it is impossible for the soldier to change his circumstances now he is there. This isolation is broken at certain stages by the arrival of the pilot and the captain but is very short lived. The soldier’s entrapment is caused by the extreme isolation he is under. His sense of isolation is further emphasised by his lack of location and direction. It was impossible for the soldier to escape to somewhere which he did know would remove his isolation and consequently his entrapment. Once again the character could have avoided this by questioning his position. This would have proved difficult though, as the soldier would have given up this choice in becoming a soldier. If he did question his position the soldier would most likely be punished for it, “No one has told him anything, except he must not ask questions”.

A Report on the Shadow Industry also includes the punishment of the curious, “I saw an old negro tear the end off a shadow box. He was arrested almost immediately”. The man in the store broke the conformity by opening a shadow box in public, removing the isolation. The isolation in this story is the actual use of the shadow boxes, in which users may only open them in private. This means peoples’ experiences of shadow boxes cannot be shared for comparisons and questioning. It is once again an environment like that of Crabs, where there is no support in dealing with this widespread problem. The sense of entrapment is brought on by everyone being an addict. No one wants to question the shadow boxes, “My own feelings are ambivalent”, as they believe that it’s worth the sacrifice of disappointment to experience the temporary and possible beauty a shadow box has to offer.

Isolation and entrapment were common of characters throughout all of these stories. The other theme which interacted with their isolation and entrapment was conformity. Had any of the characters in these stories decided to question their position then the later products of isolation and entrapment may have easily been avoided. Yet because none of the characters realised this they all were all victims of their own conformity through isolation and entrapment.

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