Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

by Judy Blume

Start Free Trial

What are the main events in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?

Quick answer:

The main events in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing include Peter winning a turtle, Mr. Hatcher getting fired, Peter teaming up with Sheila on a school project, and the Hatchers getting a dog. Important events in Peter’s life are often interrupted or spoiled by Fudge’s actions, such as the toddler’s playground injury, chaotic birthday party, dental appointment, and killing the turtle.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is told by the first-person narrator and protagonist, Peter Hatcher. The main events are those that he sees as important from his perspective as a fourth-grader, a responsible son, and an older brother. His little brother, Farley or Fudge, is the cause of many related important events. The toddler, who is impetuous and excitable, tends to spoil things for Peter.

Among the most significant events are those related to Peter’s desire for a pet. Early in the novel he wins a turtle, which later dies because Fudge eats it. Finally his parents get a dog.

Peter’s social life and schoolwork are also affected by Fudge. Peter frequently agrees to look after his brother or do things with him and his parents, when he would rather be socializing with his friends. In one such event at the playground, Fudge “flies” off the jungle gym and breaks his teeth. On two other occasions, Peter accompanies his mother and Fudge to the dentist and helps his father at work when Fudge appears in a commercial. A school-related event is Peter’s collaboration with Sheila on an important project, which Fudge wrecks.

Another important event occurs early on, also affected by Fudge, is Mr. Hatcher losing his job. Fudge’s behavior toward Mr. Yarby—the father’s boss—and his wife influences the boss’s opinion, and he fires Hatcher.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the major characters in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?

Judy Blume's 1972 novel Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a wonderful book that has really stood the test of time. 

Many characters are introduced in this novel but not all of them are major. Some just serve to move the plot forward. The major characters in the novel are as follows: 

Peter Warren Hatcher is the narrator of the story and the protagonist. The antagonist is his younger brother, Farley Drexel Hatcher. 

My biggest problem is my brother, Farley Drexel Hatcher. He's two and-a-half years old. Everybody calls him Fudge. I feel sorry for him if he's going to grow up with a name like Fudge, but I don't say a word. It's none of my business. Fudge is always in my way. He messes up everything he sees. And when he gets mad he throws himself flat on the floor and he screams. And he kicks. And he bangs his fists. The only time I really like him is when he's sleeping.

Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher, Peter's parents, are also major characters. They interact with Peter differently over the major problem of Fudge. Peter's mom often holds Peter responsible for what Fudge does. She also tries to motivate the strong-willed Fudge by using Peter as a role model for him, as she does in the following quote:

But my mother said, "I have an idea." She motioned for me and Mr. Berman to come closer. I had the feeling I wasn't going to like her idea. But I listened anyway. "I think we'll have to play a little joke on Fudge," she said. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well. . . suppose Mr. Berman brings out a pair of saddle shoes in your size and. . . ." "Oh no!" I said. "You're not going to get me to wear saddle shoes. Never!"

Peter's father is more detached and tries to be more stern with Fudge. However, he is not sympathetic to Peter's impossible situation, namely, that Fudge is a major problem in his life, and no one will help him with this problem. 

Jimmy Fargo is Peter's best friend, but, aside from a couple of episodes, he is not in the novel much. He really serves to drive the plot forward, but he is not a major character. This is also true for the Yarbys, Grandma, and Sheila. 

The biggest problem of the novel comes when Dribble, the turtle Peter wins at Jimmy's birthday party, is eaten by Fudge. All the concern goes to Fudge's well-being. His parents are panicked and take him to the hospital. The doctors prescribe medicines that will move the turtle through the digestive tract. A doctor informs Peter he will need to get another turtle. No one expresses concern for Peter's feelings about losing his beloved turtle to his brother's crazy behavior.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the major characters in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?

The main characters in Judy Blume’s, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, include:

  • Peter Warren Hatcher is the fourth grader who narrates the story. He is the older of the two boys in the Hatcher family. Peter feels ignored by his family because his little brother Fudge manages to call attention to himself with his antics, including destroying Peter’s homework. Fudge manages to get away with his tricks under the guise of being the baby until he takes, Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle.

  • Farley Drexel Hatcher, also known as Fudge, is Peter’s baby brother, who presents a number of problems for Peter, and the family. His tantrums and two-year old behavior give the family plenty to deal with.

  • Mr. Warren Hatcher is Peter and Fudge’s father. His personality is exposed in his dealings with Fudge. When Fudge refuses to eat his supper, Mr. Warren tells him, “To eat it or wear it.” He proceeds take Fudge into the bathroom where he pours the bowl of food over Fudge’s head. This is an antic Fudge repeats by himself when the family is in a restaurant.

  • Mrs. Hatcher is the wife of Warren, and the mother of Peter and Fudge. She often implores Peter to help her with Fudge when her dinner and birthday party plans go awry.

  • Jimmy Fargo is Peter’s best friend and classmate. He lives alone with his father as his parents are divorced.

  • Sheila Tubman is Peter’s classmate, and lives in his apartment building. Sheila is another thorn in Peter’s side. One of her past times is to tell everyone that Peter has cooties.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on