Owen Marshall’s short story, “The Fat Boy,”  displays an unknown ‘ fat boy,’ who is constantly seen throughout town, only when crimes have or are about to happen. It has a common symbol and is noticed throughout the community that when he is around there is bound to be trouble. He is described to have “heavy thighs,” whose “hair was amazingly fair and straight… and oddly medieval.” The short novel follows a series of crime related events that always relate to “the fat boy,” which impact and alter different people life throughout the community, which drives the victims to take action towards the end. These ideas bought up challenge common problems in society, and it shows the impact it has on other people. The symbol of the fat boy is definitely not someone stereotypically would be a stalker or commit these crimes, which reflects a common phrase throughout life which is “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

The short story always displays whenever the fat boy is around people have this sudden hate and disgust. They have a feeling of conscience, which is knowing what is right and wrong. They obviously know he is always in the wrong and there is this common theme that when something goes wrong for example when a Crime is committed in the community they are to blame the fat boy straight away. Nigel Lammerton one day was arrested for beating up his wife, he continued to tell police that, “It was the fat boy….That made him lose control.” Or take the incident when McNulty’s warehouse burn’t down, police arrived where “the owner made particular mention to the fat boy.” He is obviously seen throughout the town to be shady and most people that are guilty get away as being non guilty exactly like this situation, as there is always someone to blame on, to keep the guilty’s head afloat. Throughout the world today every single person I can guarantee is guilty of blaming there wrong doings on something or someone else. It’s a human quality that is hard to get away from, as it makes the guilty person feel better about themselves. People like this feel insecure about the situation they are in therefore using others as a scapegoat, which is removing the sins of yourself too someone else. No-one actually stops and thinks how the other person they blamed it on might feel. Recently personally I have been trying to work on this skill, and I have become much more aware that it actually feels better to take the blame. Often the by-standers fall for this. Regularly people with these labels hanging over them like thief, creep, or dodgy are always to get the blame without question, even when they are non-guilty. For example the “Trial of the century” in 1995 which consisted of OJ Simpson to be a suspect of the murder of his ex wife and her partner. Although we do not know entirely if he is guilty or not, as soon as this murder had occurred people throughout the world were so quick to jump to conclusions, giving OJ the title of being jealous and full of hate. People made this accusation and soon enough everyone followed it as it was the best reason to believe, this idea that OJ was guilty followed a chain reaction as it made people feel good about themselves. At that point and time especially if OJ was innocent, he would feel helpless and shamed seeing his name throughout the media. This feeling of being helpless especially in a situation personally I would feel like there is no escape, it would be embarrassing to have this label over your head. Which is exactly how the fat boy would feel. Indoubtly everyone including myself have been in both sides of the situation, either blaming on or being blamed on. Blaming I believe in situations I have come across shows weakness in an individual especially when they know themselves are the one to blame. I actually took away from this short story that no matter the circumstance there is no need to fault.

Owen Marshall highlights a terrible issue that is seen throughout the world today, Domestic violence. Nothing can be done to stop it, especially when the victim doesn’t speak out about it, as did Mrs Lammerton who “agreed with everything her husband said.” As Owen Marshall is a New Zealander, he highlights this huge issue seen in this country, where 525,000 people are harmed every year. It’s so common of these victims to never speak out on what actually happened, as they are constantly put down, giving them a lack in social skills. Victims have a mindset that as soon as they speak out, it will all come back. So many people are so unaware of this happening, for example from experience in Wanaka this community is so isolated from anything like this. A common issue in society is to focus on the person blamed on and not they actual person who is committing the crimes, allowing the guilty to carry on causing these ruckuses. No systems are in place to directly help the victims, which makes me realise how hard it must before the victims to get out of situations like this. Nigel Lammerton did an incredible job to slip under the radar and completely blame it on the fat boy. Personally I have seen so much throughout my life, especially in school where some bad incident occurs, kids and teachers straight away to believe its the kids who aren’t doing so well at school or often cause disruptions. I feel helpless to speak up Is there ever a case where you don’t suspect the common guilty people.

As the novel comes to an end different people impacted by the boy started to plot, and pretty much had a man hunt for him. The last time the fat boy was alive before he was murdered was at the gasworks where “his pudding face and medieval hair showed clearly in the moonlight and against the grimy storage tanks of the old gasworks.” The relation between his medieval hair and crime was a common symbol throughout the book. As soon as this hair was mentioned a realisation that something bad was about to happen screamed at me as I read it. The frustration that people must go through being effected by him must be immense and it makes me grateful I have no-one in my life that symbolises trouble but most of all drags me into it. Commonly throughout the world people have an attribute that is so unmistakable, the fat boy, let alone his size was his “medieval hair showed clearly,” the term clearly is often used to give certainty and 100% cannot be mistaken. Not wanting to be mistaken shows how eager the fat boy was to get a name for himself, showing his very disgusting mindset. An example of an attribute is Donald trumps hair, or how blunt Simon Cowell is. When the vigilant group finds the fat boy “The fat boy didn’t run, or cry out. He watched them converge, his thick legs apart and his hands pushed deep into the pockets of his short trousers. He was sly all right.”  The fat boy knew he was in the wrong and he took it, almost like he wanted these people to suffer. The mindset this guy must have had is beyond medieval almost in a threatning way. It frightens me to imagine having a constant threat in your community and gives me a greater appreciation of they place I call home. Personally a home is where you should feel safe without any worry, it sickens me to imagine a creep lingering around your house knowing off his past.

Overall this short story Aside from the fact that I have stated the fat boy is a physical person, there are a lot of hints that possibly the fat boy could just be someone to blame, an imaginary person so the police focus away from the real guilty people. When the fat boy is killed by the vigilant group, “no-one seemed to know what happened to the fat boys body.” I highly recommend this short story as it gives a lot of ways a reader can preview it.





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