The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie Characters

Albert Innaurato

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Benno Blimpie

Benno Blimpie, an enormously obese, physically repulsive man of about twenty-five. Although he is relatively short, he weighs more than five hundred pounds and has a splotchy, sickly complexion and greasy, unkempt hair. His shapeless clothes, too large even for him, are wet with his sweat and filthy from his slovenly habits. Although Benno undergoes no physical transformation, he is depicted at the various stages of his unhappy life in a series of scenes in which his age is indicated by gestures and changes in his voice. He otherwise remains inactive, a large, inert blob. These scenes, like flashbacks in fiction, lead to Benno’s transfiguration, or his decision to eat himself to death. Once that decision is made, Benno refers to his previous self in the third person. This former Benno, further revealed through recollections and dreams, is full of longing and desperate for love, but he inspires none, not even in his own family. He is always both frustrated and brutalized by experience. In one episode, he is nearly beaten to death after being sexually abused by three teenage bullies. In another, as a prelude to biting himself on the arm, he imagines himself being cooked in an oven like a roast. Although for a time he is able to find solace in art of the Italian masters and his own drawings, and, presumably, some emotional satisfaction in his perpetual eating, he finally resigns himself to his fate. The transfigured Benno will feed upon himself and, nearing death, eat large quantities of poison so that the rats feeding on his body will die and he, in death, will have achieved some...

(The entire section is 662 words.)