This essay One Fat Englishman Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers has a total of 3913 words and 16 pages.
One Fat Englishman
1. One Fat English Man
2. The author of the novel is Kingsley Amis, copyright 1963.
3. Kingsley Amis was a British writer from England.
4. Major Characters
Roger Micheldene is the man the book focuses primarily upon. He is “a shortish fat Englishman of forty (6)” and a publisher. Of the seven deadly sins Roger considers himself to be gluttony, sloth and lust. He considers himself most qualified in the sin of anger (8). He is so fat that his hips have fused together and he is forced to wear a brace. He also drinks excessively and uses Snuff. His drink of preference is gin with water added and no ice. He has a wife in England, but still enjoys interludes with women.
His character does not change within the novel. He remains a selfish, fat, Englishman who is quick to anger, is willing to cheat on his wife whenever possible and drinks heavily. Thus he considered a round, fully developed, but static character. Through out the novel he seems to be drawn by a need to receive love from women, although he discounts their thoughts and general stature. Through all his encounters he seeks love from Helene far more than the others. He feels he is a great man when he conquerors her.
Helene Bang was born in Denmark, but her parents brought her to America when she was ten. She settles with her family in Idaho. When she was twenty-one, while on a visit in Denmark, she met Ernst Bang. She married Ernst and moved back to America with him. Although she was born in Denmark she considers herself an American. She is a very attractive woman; many of the male students at Budweiser find her attractive, too. She is a round character, but still static. She lives a life endeared to her husband and son through out the novel. Even in her affair at the end of the novel with Irving she still claims she cannot lie to her husband. However, she confirms she is not in love with Roger, “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 attends Budweiser. (9). He is the author of a bizarre novel, Blikie Heaven, which Joe asked Roger to critique and publish. Physically he is described by Roger as “brown-haired…freckled, with a mild crew-cut…with nothing noticeable about him but a pair of restless grey eyes (11).” He is a round character; Amis develops him through various encounters with Roger, but static also. He is Roger’s antagonist. Every time Roget tries to win the love of Helene he steps in to mess things up. For example, he steals Roger’s lecture notes before Roger is to give a speech before a few hundred men, is apart of a trick that involves a young lady biting Roger’s neck and takes Helene to New York. He is a 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 from Denmark. He moved to America after taking a leave from Copenhagen, a university he taught at in Denmark, and received a year’s appointment at Budweiser. He is married to Helene. In Roger’s mind Ernst is the only thing standing between him and Helene. He is young and attractive. He is also very trusting, and does not suspect Roger is having an affair with Helene.
Arthur Bang is the son of Helene and Ernst. He attends a farm school and has especially high aptitudes and study habits. He is important because he spoils a lot of Roger’s romantic plans. For example, on Halloween Helene uses the excuse that Arthur would be home 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 an Englishman. The two seem happily married. However, she has numerous affairs, including one with Roger. She is drunk one of the last times that she sees Roger.
Father Colgate is a priest at Budweiser. He is a flamboyantly handsome and muscular man of thirty, dressed in well-tailored clerical garb (88). He has a serious concern for Roger’s current state of being and worries over his soul. Father Colgate is added to the novel to symbolize the constant battle Roger has between what’s right, God’s way, and what he does.
6. Three Main Settings
Joe Derlanger’s home is one of the most important settings within the work. It is here that Roger is reunited with Helene and also has his first physical encounter with Mollie Atkins. Roger arranges to meet with Mollie at a later time and to call Helene. It is here, too, that the group freely speaks about English men and bash on the British. For example, in a charade game they played the group acted out the word “Brutishly”. The whole gang, including Helene, managed to make Roger feel degraded (25). The author uses this moderately neutral atmosphere to acquaint the characters in a relatively short time span and allows Roger’s mind to wander, divulging the past.
The Bangs’ home is where Helene and Roger carry out their affair. The author specifically uses this setting because he is pointing out the fact Roger cares for no one but himself. Ernst trusts Roger enough to let him stay with his family, and Roger repays him by sleeping with his wife. This also puts Helene in an awkward situation. She is forced to deal with hiding the truth from her son, too. Despite the awkward conditions the two manage to continue with their passionate interludes. The atmosphere advances the plot in that Roger uses the home as a base and continues experiencing the various aspects of America and women while always returning to the room located next to Helene and Ernst’s.
Atkins’ apartment in New York is a setting that the author first introduces at Joe’s party, but is not an intricate part of the novel until close to the end. Strode Atkins 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 out on the town. This setting is used as a conflict point between Irving and Roger and between Roger and Helene. Roger is angry that Irving took Helene to New York not 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 not plan what he’d do. He instantly becomes angry with Irving, wanting to pounce on him, but is stopped by Helene. Irving comments, “I’m not only a coward, I’m also a liar and a thief and I value worldly success too much…In any event sticks and stones may break my bones, only we’re agreed sticks and stones are out, and words will never hurt me, no words you’re likely to think of 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 love for him that she has felt for her. This is a good setting for this to occur because no one else is around to stop the dispute. This is a good setting for Amis to use for a final battle between Irving and Roger, fairly neutral ground.
The novel begins before an evening party at the estate of Joe Derlanger. Roger Micheldene and Joe are discussing the guests what will arrive shortly. Here the author sets the scene as being relaxed and non confrontational. In the initial scenes the reader is acquainted with most of the novel’s characters. Also the reader learns Roger is only in the United States for sixteen days. He hadn’t seen Helene for nearly eighteen months.
The past begins to unravel at Joe’s party. Roger remembers the last time he tried to make “verbal love” to Helene, and how Arthur interrupted them. The group then decides to go swimming. Roger is too embarrassed of his obesity to swim with the others. Instead he sits neat the side of the pool and tries to enjoy the Helene’s physical appearance. After dinner that evening, he has a chance to speak with Helene while the group is playing a game and she gives him her phone number. Less than an hour later Roger is attracted to Mollie Atkins and sets up a place to rendezvous with her, too.
Roger goes to the Helene’s home and the two carry on their affair (56). She eventually walks away from his lap with the excuse that she has a telephone call to make. She then works in the kitchen and tells Roger no more can happen that day because Arthur will be home from school soon. Roger says outright, “Let’s go to bed.” She says no because it’s Halloween and the school will probably let out early. The reader is given a new look at Roger. He is not simply upset with the fact Arthur will be home early, but with the fact Helene did not tell him this earlier. He is upset that he spent the whole day with her and traveled all the way to her home thinking that they’d “go to bed” but thinks the entire day was a waste of his time because they did not. This shows Roger is not solely interested in spending time with Helene, but in receiving sexual pleasure.
Arthur then returns home, followed by Ernst. The tension between Arthur and Roger is evident during their 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 dislikes Arthur to the point that he calls Mollie Atkins and sets a time for them to meet. They met at Mollie’s shop and then ventured into a forest to be alone. They have a picnic and “sleep together” on the grass. Mollie tells Roger how dissatisfied she is with her marriage, but that she stays with him because she has no money or skills (84). While they’re making love Roger is disturbed by the turtles that are watching them.
The next day he travels to Budweiser and speaks with Father Colgate. There his entire plan is to trick the father into telling him all about his religious beliefs and then scrutinize them. As a true Englishman Roger states he is from the Roman Catholic Church. The conflict that took place between the two was rather large and not subdues until Irving stepped in and told Roger that he, Roger, is too scripted in his thoughts and conversations. After overhearing the conversation between Roger and the father Irving states, “pretty competent, sir, but overly scripted, wouldn’t you say? A little lacking in spontaneity? (92)” Roger then regretfully confronted Irving and was sidetracked. Once again, Irving is Roger’s adversary.
Amis spends some time diving into Roger’s psyche and showing the reader Roger’s full view on America. As Roger looked out the window of a building at Budweiser he commented: “For sophomores or seniors or whatever they were of Budweiser College, Pa., they seemed not hopelessly barbarous. None of them was chewing gum or smoking a ten-cent cigar or wearing a raccoon coat or drinking Coca-Cola or eating a hamburger or sniffing cocaine, or watching television or mugging anyone or, perforce, driving a Cadillac (90).” Amis
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