27 pages 54 minutes read

Andre Dubus II

The Fat Girl

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1977

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Character Analysis


Content Warning: This section deals with disordered eating and body shaming.

Louise, the protagonist, is a young girl who transitions into adulthood and learns to embrace her true self by the conclusion. As a work of psychological fiction, the story delves deep into the origins, development, and effects of Louise’s pathologies, which begin when she is a child and stem largely from her mother. Louise attempts to resist the regimen her mother imposes on her, but she does so secretly and merely develops a completely different set of disordered eating behaviors. She also has a hard time making friends or even considering romance because of her Secrecy in Interpersonal Relationships: She hides not only her eating behavior but also who she is as a person. To move beyond her baggage, Louise must confront it head-on rather than ignore it.

Louise goes on a major diet during college, becoming thin and pleasing her mother. She then gets married but does not find the happiness her mother hoped this would bring her. She hates being thin, does not feel like herself, and does not feel like her husband knows her. Louise gets pregnant, gains weight, and decides not to be thin anymore.