27 pages 54 minutes read

Andre Dubus II

The Fat Girl

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1977

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Symbols & Motifs

Candy Bars

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

Candy bars appear frequently throughout the story as a motif; they are Louise’s favorite food to eat in secret. At first, the candy bars support the theme of Gender Roles, Female Sexuality, and Motherhood because Louise eats them in defiance of her mother’s demands that she be thin and try to appeal to men. She even hides them behind childhood toys in her closet, as if she is using them to fill a longstanding void—presumably, some sort of comfort she did not receive from her mother. The candy bars also draw comparisons to sex, as when Louise imagines being “in bed, eating chocolate in the dark” (160). Like sex, the candy bars bring Louise physical pleasure, but they do so without the fraught associations of men and romance.

Candy bars therefore also illustrate the theme of Secrecy in Interpersonal Relationships. Louise never tells anyone about the candy bars until her roommate, Carrie, discovers her secret and confronts her. However, this does not ultimately help Louise come out of her shell, but rather prompts her to create a new, thicker shell.