Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Behind the absurd events of “The Fat Man in History” lie the mysterious revolution and the shadowy generals, Kooper and Alvarez, who are alluded to several times. The pre-revolution leader had apparently been a corrupt figure named Danko, who along with the generals is described by Finch as fascists. Other unexplained individuals are Calsen, “an academic, who was kicked out of the university for seducing one of ’the little scrawnies’”; Deirdre and Annie, “fragile girls with the slender arms of children,” who had loved Finch “with a total and unreasonable love”; and Miles Cooper, the Cooper with a ’C’, who had betrayed the revolution.

Before the revolution, fatness was apparently to be accepted, perhaps even admired, as evidence of one’s prosperity, presumably even one’s selfishness and willingness to exploit the poorer classes. To be fat, however, came to be seen as the mark of an oppressor, a capitalist running dog of the Americans, who are identified with the vicious Danko regime. Thus, Finch and his fellow fat men, each a mountain of flesh, huddle together as pariahs in a filthy rented house, surviving mainly by shoplifting. As the self-appointed “Fat Men Against the Revolution,” they scheme with their leader, Fantoni, to blow up the 16 October Statue. Fat induces their alienation, their bitterness, their susceptibility to exploitation.

Food and eating play a large role in this story, not only in the...

(The entire section is 411 words.)