Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

by Chris Crutcher
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Explain three important things Eric has done because he cares about Sarah in Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

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Firstly, the novel’s title gives the reader an obvious clue regarding one of Eric’s efforts to help Sarah and maintain their friendship. Eric earns a spot on the high school swim team, and this new exercise regimen causes him to lose weight. He is under the misconception that if he...

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Firstly, the novel’s title gives the reader an obvious clue regarding one of Eric’s efforts to help Sarah and maintain their friendship. Eric earns a spot on the high school swim team, and this new exercise regimen causes him to lose weight. He is under the misconception that if he becomes thin, Sarah will cease being friends with him. Consequently, he eats copious amounts of food in order to stay fat. Eric hopes this unhealthy ploy will work; however, Sarah eventually discovers Eric’s ruse and tell him to stop. When Eric listens to Sarah and loses weight, this can be considered a second incident, as he is showing Sarah how much he cares by heeding her admonishments.

When Sarah pretends to be catatonic and is admitted to the hospital, Eric perseveres in his quest to discover why Sarah will not speak and how he can best help her. Again, this exemplifies his commitment to their friendship. Subsequently, Sarah fails to maintain her speechlessness and sends Eric a letter explaining her fears while pleading with him to refrain from telling any adults. Eric bravely confides in Mrs. Lemry and Dale Thornton, albeit separately, as his love and concern for Sarah outweigh her anger. He knows that he and Sarah need help from adults to save her from her father.

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The title of the book gives one of those away. Sarah is Eric "Moby" Calhoune's best friend, and while she is in a mental hospital, apparently unable to speak or respond, Eric begins to lose weight, as he is on the swim team. But in a sense, he doesn't want Sarah, who is also overweight, to feel left behind and withdraw further, so one important thing he does is eat a lot. He literally stays fat for Sarah.

Another important thing is that he continually searches for the truth about what has caused Sarah to be hospitalized. He doesn't just leave her there or write her off; as her best friend, he looks for the cause of her mental illness and, in the end, takes risks to help her.

A third important thing Eric does is recruit help. He tells adults, especially those at their school, and they help him to come up with a plan to rescue Sarah from the abusive father she is hiding from.

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