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    One Fat Englishman Essay (3597 words)

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    1.

    One Fat English Man 2. The author of the novel is Kingsley Amis, copyright1963. 3. Kingsley Amis was a British writer from England.

    4. Major CharactersRoger Micheldene is the man the book focuses primarily upon. He is “a shortishfat Englishman of forty (6)” and a publisher. Of the seven deadly sins Rogerconsiders himself to be gluttony, sloth and lust. He considers himself mostqualified in the sin of anger (8).

    He is so fat that his hips have fusedtogether and he is forced to wear a brace. He also drinks excessively and usesSnuff. His drink of preference is gin with water added and no ice. He has a wifein England, but still enjoys interludes with women. His character does notchange within the novel. He remains a selfish, fat, Englishman who is quick toanger, is willing to cheat on his wife whenever possible and drinks heavily.

    Thus he considered a round, fully developed, but static character. Through outthe novel he seems to be drawn by a need to receive love from women, although hediscounts their thoughts and general stature. Through all his encounters heseeks love from Helene far more than the others. He feels he is a great man whenhe conquerors her.

    Helene Bang was born in Denmark, but her parents brought herto America when she was ten. She settles with her family in Idaho. When she wastwenty-one, while on a visit in Denmark, she met Ernst Bang. She married Ernstand moved back to America with him. Although she was born in Denmark sheconsiders herself an American.

    She is a very attractive woman; many of the malestudents at Budweiser find her attractive, too. She is a round character, butstill static. She lives a life endeared to her husband and son through out thenovel. Even in her affair at the end of the novel with Irving she still claimsshe cannot lie to her husband. However, she confirms she is not in love withRoger, “when I go to bed with you I simply feel less sorry for you (185).

    “Irving Macher is a “brilliant young Jewish kid from New York” who attendsBudweiser. (9). He is the author of a bizarre novel, Blikie Heaven, which Joeasked Roger to critique and publish. Physically he is described by Roger as”brown-haired.

    . . freckled, with a mild crew-cut. . .

    with nothing noticeable abouthim but a pair of restless grey eyes (11). ” He is a round character; Amisdevelops him through various encounters with Roger, but static also. He isRogers antagonist. Every time Roget tries to win the love of Helene he stepsin to mess things up. For example, he steals Rogers lecture notes beforeRoger is to give a speech before a few hundred men, is apart of a trick thatinvolves a young lady biting Rogers neck and takes Helene to New York. He isa young who is ready to argue, but also willing to admit his weaknesses.

    5. Minor Characters Ernst Bang is a Germanic philologist, who was originally fromDenmark. He moved to America after taking a leave from Copenhagen, a universityhe taught at in Denmark, and received a years appointment at Budweiser. He ismarried to Helene. In Rogers mind Ernst is the only thing standing betweenhim and Helene. He is young and attractive.

    He is also very trusting, and doesnot suspect Roger is having an affair with Helene. Arthur Bang is the son ofHelene and Ernst. He attends a farm school and has especially high aptitudes andstudy habits. He is important because he spoils a lot of Rogers romanticplans.

    For example, on Halloween Helene uses the excuse that Arthur would behome too soon from school for the two to carry out a physical part of the affair(57). Mollie Atkins is married to Strode Atkins, who considers himself anEnglishman. The two seem happily married. However, she has numerous affairs,including one with Roger. She is drunk one of the last times that she seesRoger.

    Father Colgate is a priest at Budweiser. He is a flamboyantly handsomeand muscular man of thirty, dressed in well-tailored clerical garb (88). He hasa serious concern for Rogers current state of being and worries over hissoul. Father Colgate is added to the novel to symbolize the constant battleRoger has between whats right, Gods way, and what he does. 6. Three MainSettings Joe Derlangers home is one of the most important settings within thework.

    It is here that Roger is reunited with Helene and also has his firstphysical encounter with Mollie Atkins. Roger arranges to meet with Mollie at alater time and to call Helene. It is here, too, that the group freely speaksabout English men and bash on the British. For example, in a charade game theyplayed the group acted out the word “Brutishly”.

    The whole gang, includingHelene, managed to make Roger feel degraded (25). The author uses thismoderately neutral atmosphere to acquaint the characters in a relatively shorttime span and allows Rogers mind to wander, divulging the past. The Bangshome is where Helene and Roger carry out their affair. The author specificallyuses this setting because he is pointing out the fact Roger cares for no one buthimself.

    Ernst trusts Roger enough to let him stay with his family, and Rogerrepays him by sleeping with his wife. This also puts Helene in an awkwardsituation. She is forced to deal with hiding the truth from her son, too. Despite the awkward conditions the two manage to continue with their passionateinterludes. The atmosphere advances the plot in that Roger uses the home as abase and continues experiencing the various aspects of America and women whilealways returning to the room located next to Helene and Ernsts.

    Atkinsapartment in New York is a setting that the author first introduces at Joesparty, but is not an intricate part of the novel until close to the end. StrodeAtkins offers Irving a key to the apartment as a refuge for the young man. Irving takes Helene to the apartment. They sleep together and spend a night outon the town. This setting is used as a conflict point between Irving and Rogerand between Roger and Helene. Roger is angry that Irving took Helene to New Yorknot because he was worried for her safety but because he was jealous and angry.

    He traveled all the way to New York to catch them at the apartment, but did notplan what hed do. He instantly becomes angry with Irving, wanting to pounceon him, but is stopped by Helene. Irving comments, “Im not only a coward,Im also a liar and a thief and I value worldly success too much. . .

    In anyevent sticks and stones may break my bones, only were agreed sticks andstones are out, and words will never hurt me, no words youre likely to thinkof uttering anyhow. . . (182). ” Robert also faces a confrontation with Helene.

    She asks him to go away, and tells him she has never felt the same kind of lovefor him that she has felt for her. This is a good setting for this to occurbecause no one else is around to stop the dispute. This is a good setting forAmis to use for a final battle between Irving and Roger, fairly neutral ground. 7. Plot Synopsis The novel begins before an evening party at the estate of JoeDerlanger. Roger Micheldene and Joe are discussing the guests what will arriveshortly.

    Here the author sets the scene as being relaxed and nonconfrontational. In the initial scenes the reader is acquainted with most of thenovels characters. Also the reader learns Roger is only in the United Statesfor sixteen days. He hadnt seen Helene for nearly eighteen months. The pastbegins to unravel at Joes party. Roger remembers the last time he tried tomake “verbal love” to Helene, and how Arthur interrupted them.

    The groupthen decides to go swimming. Roger is too embarrassed of his obesity to swimwith the others. Instead he sits neat the side of the pool and tries to enjoythe Helenes physical appearance. After dinner that evening, he has a chanceto speak with Helene while the group is playing a game and she gives him herphone number. Less than an hour later Roger is attracted to Mollie Atkins andsets up a place to rendezvous with her, too. Roger goes to the Helenes homeand the two carry on their affair (56).

    She eventually walks away from his lapwith the excuse that she has a telephone call to make. She then works in thekitchen and tells Roger no more can happen that day because Arthur will be homefrom school soon. Roger says outright, “Lets go to bed. ” She says nobecause its Halloween and the school will probably let out early. The readeris given a new look at Roger.

    He is not simply upset with the fact Arthur willbe home early, but with the fact Helene did not tell him this earlier. He isupset that he spent the whole day with her and traveled all the way to her homethinking that theyd “go to bed” but thinks the entire day was a waste ofhis time because they did not. This shows Roger is not solely interested inspending time with Helene, but in receiving sexual pleasure. Arthur then returnshome, followed by Ernst. The tension between Arthur and Roger is evident duringtheir initial conversation and the Scrabble game that the two play together. Roger is so upset that he could not carry out his plans with Helene and dislikesArthur to the point that he calls Mollie Atkins and sets a time for them tomeet.

    They met at Mollies shop and then ventured into a forest to be alone. They have a picnic and “sleep together” on the grass. Mollie tells Roger howdissatisfied she is with her marriage, but that she stays with him because shehas no money or skills (84). While theyre making love Roger is disturbed bythe turtles that are watching them. The next day he travels to Budweiser andspeaks with Father Colgate. There his entire plan is to trick the father intotelling him all about his religious beliefs and then scrutinize them.

    As a trueEnglishman Roger states he is from the Roman Catholic Church. The conflict thattook place between the two was rather large and not subdues until Irving steppedin and told Roger that he, Roger, is too scripted in his thoughts andconversations. After overhearing the conversation between Roger and the fatherIrving states, “pretty competent, sir, but overly scripted, wouldnt yousay? A little lacking in spontaneity? (92)” Roger then regretfully confrontedIrving and was sidetracked. Once again, Irving is Rogers adversary.

    Amisspends some time diving into Rogers psyche and showing the reader Rogersfull view on America. As Roger looked out the window of a building at Budweiserhe commented: “For sophomores or seniors or whatever they were of BudweiserCollege, Pa. , they seemed not hopelessly barbarous. None of them was chewing gumor smoking a ten-cent cigar or wearing a raccoon coat or drinking Coca-Cola oreating a hamburger or sniffing cocaine, or watching television or mugging anyoneor, perforce, driving a Cadillac (90).

    ” Amis is speaking through Rogersthoughts and satirizing American culture. Next Roger is supposed to speak beforea large group of people about the publishing industry. However he is verydistressed to find that his research and carefully formulated speech is missing. However, the committee still wants him to speak, they try and talk him intogiving an impromptu speech but he will not.

    He wanted to speak marvelously toimpress Helene, but refused to speak impromptu out of anger over the thoughtthat Arthur had stolen his work and placed a comic book in its place. Hecomments, “If you think Im going out there to give those people afifty-minute impromptu chat youre doomed to disappointment. They might not beable to tell the difference between that and a serious lecture but I can. Iwont do it (100). ” Roger then storms back to the Bangs home and accusesArthur.

    Helene defends his son from the accusations, “Let me have a look atthat thing. . . But this is “Crazy” magazine, not a comic book.

    Kids dontread this-not kids of Arthurs age. Its way beyond them. Its far tosophisticated (105). ” In Rogers rage he proclaims, “Arthurs remarkablyintelligent. ” The matter is settled when Ernst turns to the back page of themagazine and reads the inscription, “Property of Rho Epsilon Chi Fraternity:not to be removed from reading room.

    ” Roger then left, got drunk, and thenreturned to his room in the Bangs home only to hear Ernst and Helene togetherin the other room. Roger woke the next morning and prepared for the eveningsparty on a Barge that night. In the afternoon, before the party, Helene dropsArthur off at the zoo with a neighbor so Roger and her may have a few hoursalone to continue their affair. During which time Roger receives a phone callfrom Irving, at which time he confesses to having taken Rogers materials. Roger is so concerned with this change in developments that he puts his timewith Helene on hold and attempts to take action against Irving.

    Helen is unhappywith this and simply leaves Roger. That night Roger Irving and a young womanplay a trick on Roger. Roger ends up with bite marks on his neck, Mollie knowingthat he was ready to have an affair with a young woman and Roger left humiliatedin the dark on the island. Once again Irving catches Roger off guard.

    The nextday Helene left home without telling Ernst where she went and simply put thingson order for her family. Ernst and Roger talk about where she could be; thewhole time Ernst does not suspect Roger could be having an affair with Helene. Roger figures he knows where Helene is, with Irving. He gets a hold of StrodeAtkins apartment key and taxis to New York to find them. In New York he findsthe apartment with no one inside. So he waits for a while and then searched thetown for them.

    Eventually Roger catches them. However, he is caught off guard,too. Helen tells him that she has never really loved him and only slept with himout of pity. She orders him to leave and states she doesnt want to haveanything more to do with him (181). This obviously hurts Roger, but theresnothing he can say in response. The following day he leaves for England.

    Ernstand Helene are reunited and all seems back to normal. After sixteen days ofnothing he returns to his wife the same man as when he arrived in America. Although Helene flatly said shes through with him and Mollie wont sleepwith him again, he still has a hope that they will get together during his nextstay in America. 8. Conflicts A major conflict within the novel is Rogerslack of self worth due to the fact he is fat. This is evident in the fact thathe believes he is too fat to take of more than his jacket on a hot day and hisbelief that his “mammary development would have been acceptable only if hecould have shed half his weight as well as changing his sex (7).

    ” Hisobsession with drinking also has to do with his lack of self-esteem. He is awomanizer and drinks when he feels down and depressed, nearly all the time. Another conflict is the fact Roger sees himself as a proper Englishman and doesnot agree with most of Americas customs and its abuse of the Englishlanguage. “He normally made a point of not conforming to American usage ortaste in the smallest particular (7). ” He has a tough time submitting to thedifferent language that Americans use and their way of thinking.

    One night hegot into a deep conversation with a cab driver while drunk. The cab driverresponded, “Your basic objection to Jack Kennedy appears to be that he is anAmerican. Dont think I dont sympathies, but unfortunately we have this lawhere that says the President of the United States has to be a citizen of theRepublic. Unreasonable, I grant you, but there it is. Dura lex sed lex, old man,which is Iroquois for “Why dont you go back to your island and staythere”. Good-night (108).

    ” There is also a very evident conflict-takingplace between Roger and God. It is obvious God does not agree with Rogerslifestyle. However, Roger chooses to call upon the Lord at times that pleaseshim. One of his chronic difficulties was reconciling his belief in theimportance of priests and the Church with his apathy towards most of the formerand aversion from most of the doctrines and practices of the latter, a conflictalso to be seen in his relations with the Omnipotent (89). He continues in suchfashion by stating religion “Superhuman only on scale (91).

    ” Obviously Rogerdoes not want to bow before a force that does not permit him to have the kind offun he wants to. Father Colgate also has a conflict between himself and Roger. He comments, “In my calling one very quickly develops what might almost becalled an instinct whereby he comes to detect infallibly the signs of a soul atvariance with God. You, my son, are very disturbed.

    . . A man doesnt act like achild unless his is hurting him. Your soul is hurting you, Mr. Micheldene. Wont you allow me to hear your confession, my son’soon.

    The sooner thebetter (101). ” This is truly a problem and disappointment for Father Colgatebecause he genuinely cares for Rogers soul. The real conflict for FatherColgate arises when Roger finally asks the father to hear his confessions but isinsincere in his repentance. The father must make the call as to whether or notRogers repenting is valid. There is a conflict between Roger and women ingeneral. He has been married at least two times and has not managed to remainfaithful.

    He uses women for sexual pleasure, caring only for his own feelings,and then comments on how silly women are. He does not like the power they haveover men nor their ability to change men. 9. Major Themes One major theme withinthe novel is the search for self worth. Roger tries to find his worth inmeaningless relationships and alcohol because he is so insecure about himself asan individual.

    This is parallel to the fact that he is fat. I think most peoplehave the same type of problem. They feel one aspect of themselves is so hideousthat they try to cover it up inside by lashing out on others or simply usingothers to feel good. Amis is pointing this out through Rogers actions andrelationships. Besides that I have a difficult time finding themes within thework.

    I saw how Amis continually pointed out how lust conquered a man andwomans sense of right and wrong. However, Helene states she cannot lie toErnst about where she is. Obviously her entire life is a lie because he believesher to be faithful. Perhaps Amis is also trying to point out the fact thatthings are not always as they seem. People seem to have good jobs and money, butthat doesnt account for happiness, as in Joes unhappiness with his lifeand sudden outbursts of anger.

    Also he sort of hints at the fact that men areonly out to get what they want and is ready to squash any one who stands intheir way. For example, Roger is angrier with Irving over the fact that he stoleHelene for the weekend then the fact Irving humiliated him so many times. Overall, I believe Amis wrote very little moral value into the novel, nor did heincorporate major themes. It seems to me the novel is simply a satire aboutAmerican life.

    Amis also uses outrageous instances to make us fell sorry for thefat Englishman that is really undeserving of pity because he is so mean andnasty. 10. My Favorite Scene My favorite scene within the novel is quite simple,but I find it humorous. Roger is at Helenes home and her son Arthur justreturned home from school. Arthur is unhappy with Roger being there and Roger isjust as unhappy that the childs presence spoiled his afternoon plans withHelene. However, Roger must make an attempt to show Helene that he iscompassionate by trying to befriend Arthur.

    After a one sided conversation withArthur, Roger is about to give up. Then Arthur asked Roger to play scrabble withhim. The two sat down to play and needless to say Roger drew letters from thebag that offered no chance making a word for quite a while. Arthur, a smallchild with a smaller grasp on language than Roger, was winning. Eventually Ernstcame home and Roger was stuck playing the game in front of both Helene andRoger. “The humiliation of being routed at a scrabble game by a seven-year-oldseemed destined to pass by Roger (66).

    ” Thus, Roger asked to resign from thegame, but Arthur informed him that resigning is not allowed. Thus, they wereforced to continue playing. Arthurs next word was N-I-T-E-R. Roger looked atthe word curiously and said “Niter? Whats that supposed to mean?” Arthurironically said, “You know, like a one-nighter.

    ” To which Roger responded”No such word” and challenged Arthur. Arthur opened a dictionary and read”Niter, a Potassium nitrate. A supposed nitrous element. ” Roger still arguedwith Arthur and said the correct spelling is N-I-T-R-E. When Arthur shook hishead Roger angrily stammered, “I. .

    . But that is a bloody Americandictionary. ” To which Arthur responded, “This is bloody America. ” I foundthis quite humorous because I could easily visualize the scene. A large man anda small child playing a game, the older man losing and then the childsretort. I also enjoyed the fact Arthur then quoted Rogers new score of”minus 21.

    ” 11. The Significance of the title The title of the novel is OneFat Englishman. The novel is named this because its main character is anEnglishman, Roger, who is considerably overweight, fat. 12.

    The authors pointof view The novels point of view is third person omniscient. This allows thereader to know not only what Roger is thinking and feeling but what others are,too. Thus, the reader does not simply see everything from Rogers perspective. Also this allows the reader to understand more of what is going on between andin scenes.

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