Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

With a first-person narrator, the reader must assess the validity of the narrator’s perceptions and explanations. Sometimes a narrator may be too immature or too naïve to understand the unfolding events, and other times the narrator is intentionally trying to mislead the reader. The narrator of “Big Me” acknowledges that he is a liar and has misled his dying father with a story about a fantasy girlfriend. He has misled friends with claims that his mother is an actress and that his father is an archeologist in South America. Andy has admitted he still leads a fantasy life, and he recognizes that he still has moments when he blacks out and has no idea what he has done for the last forty-five minutes.

Part of interpreting “Big Me” is sorting through the claims of different characters. The adult Andy describes his brother Mark as paranoid; Andy says Mark exaggerates, but it is hard to trust Andy’s version of events. The adult Andy describes his childhood days as spent spying on Mickelson as the detective, but one childhood scene that does ring true is that in which Andy is eavesdropping on his parents. He cannot quite hear what they are saying, but he worries that they are talking about him. In the end, “Big Me” is about the distances a person can go to avoid the truth. Although young Andy describes searching for clues about Mickelson, in the untold but underlying story, he is searching for clues to what his future holds.


(The entire section is 441 words.)