In his short story Bigfoot Stole My Wife, how did Ron Carlson advance the notion that "one lie leads to another?"

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ron Carlson’s short story Bigfoot Stole My Wife is less a matter of “one lie leading to another” than it is a parable of leading a life seriously short of substance and firmly centered at the race track.  The story’s “protagonist” and narrator, Rick, is the quintessential loser.  Carlson’s story is about an immature and intellectually-challenged twenty-something man whose life revolves around the racetrack.  Everything about Bigfoot Stole My Wife points to an individual of marginal worth.  So self-delusional is Rick that he can’t fathom any reason for his wife Trudy and her collie and half of her clothing to have disappeared other than by a supernatural phenomenon like the arrival of a mythical creature said to possess enormous physical dimensions. 

Evidence of Rick’s inconsequential life are found throughout the first half of the story.  The following paragraph from Carlson’s story implies a life scarcely worth leading, a conclusion obviously drawn by Trudy:

“When I'd get out of bed in the early afternoon, I'd stand right here at this sink and I could see her working in her garden in her cut-off Levis and bikini top, weeding, planting, watering. I mean it was obvious. I was too busy thinking about the races, weighing the odds, checking the jockey roster to see what I now know: he was watching her too. He'd probably been watching her all summer.”

What this passage tells the reader is that Rick is almost certainly unemployed, sleeps through the day rather than looking for work or performing some meritorious task, spends all of his time thinking about betting on horses, and has an attractive, sexy wife who is considerably more industrious than he is.  Yet, he is so delusional that he is incapable of considering the possibility that Trudy has willingly left him for a better life.  That can’t have happened, in Rick’s mind, so the best explanation for her disappearance during his latest outing at the racetrack is that Bigfoot took her, and her dog, and her clothes, leaving only a spilled bottle of Dr. Pepper.  Oh, and Bigfoot stole her car.  In one of the story’s more comical passages, Rick describes an exchange with his neighbor Chuck:

“Chuck came down and said something like well if Bigfoot stole her why'd he take the Celica? Christ, what a cynic! Have you ever read anything about Bigfoot not being able to drive?”

So divorced from reality and mentally deficient is Rick that his lament regarding the disappearance of his wife is interrupted half-way through the story, replaced with an unbelievable story about being swept away by a flashflood in a trailer with his friend Nuggy – a story that consumes most of the final half of the narrative.  Rick needs to believe that anything is possible; how else can he account for Trudy’s departure.  Near the story’s conclusion, he urges the reader to believe everything:

“Believe every weather forecast. Believe in God, the afterlife, unicorns, showers on Tuesday. Everything has happened. Everything is possible. . .Bigfoot stole my wife. She's gone. Believe it. I gotta believe it.”

Bigfoot Stole My Wife isn’t about lying, per se; it’s about self-delusion.

kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the answer must be predicated on a particular interpretation of the story's meaning or thesis, such as "one lie leads to another," than you can argue that Rick's history of "lies" have subsumed his life and that he has ceased to have any credibility with Trudy, or even with himself.  The suggestion that "one lie leads to another" is the appropriate meaning of Carlson's story, I believe, is erroneous.  The narration clearly indicates that he distorts reality to himself, but there is no evidence that he lies to others.  That is the self-delusion to which I referred in my earlier answer.  He demands to be considered a credible source of information, yet diverts his story about the disappearance of his wife in order to tell the story of his trailer being washed away in a flood with he and his friend Nuggy trapped inside.  The story is fantastical, but the reader doesn't know if any of its is actually false.  His is the only version of the story we have.  It is, obviously, highly unlikely that he grew up in the spot where the runaway trailer eventually came to rest, but Rick's "tall tales" may not be intended to deceive anybody but himself.  Any suggestion that Rick is a chronic liar rests on the assumption that everything he says is a lie, as opposed to the notion that he is self-delusional.  Bigfoot, of course, did not steal his wife.  To categorize that as a "lie," however, is to miss the point of the story.  This guy can't accept reality; that is far different than the notion of a chronic liar who grasps reality but repeatedly fails to tell the truth.  In any event, I regret that my response was not satisfactory from your perspective.

js2 | Student

What type of Character would you specify Rick as... Dynamic? 

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