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One Fat Englishman Essay, Research Paper

1. One Fat English Man 2. The author of the novel is Kingsley Amis, copyright

1963. 3. Kingsley Amis was a British writer from England. 4. Major Characters

Roger Micheldene is the man the book focuses primarily upon. He is ?a shortish

fat Englishman of forty (6)? and a publisher. Of the seven deadly sins Roger

considers himself to be gluttony, sloth and lust. He considers himself most

qualified in the sin of anger (8). He is so fat that his hips have fused

together and he is forced to wear a brace. He also drinks excessively and uses

Snuff. His drink of preference is gin with water added and no ice. He has a wife

in England, but still enjoys interludes with women. His character does not

change within the novel. He remains a selfish, fat, Englishman who is quick to

anger, is willing to cheat on his wife whenever possible and drinks heavily.

Thus he considered a round, fully developed, but static character. Through out

the novel he seems to be drawn by a need to receive love from women, although he

discounts their thoughts and general stature. Through all his encounters he

seeks love from Helene far more than the others. He feels he is a great man when

he conquerors her. Helene Bang was born in Denmark, but her parents brought her

to America when she was ten. She settles with her family in Idaho. When she was

twenty-one, while on a visit in Denmark, she met Ernst Bang. She married Ernst

and moved back to America with him. Although she was born in Denmark she

considers herself an American. She is a very attractive woman; many of the male

students at Budweiser find her attractive, too. She is a round character, but

still static. She lives a life endeared to her husband and son through out the

novel. Even in her affair at the end of the novel with Irving she still claims

she cannot lie to her husband. However, she confirms she is not in love with

Roger, ?when I go to bed with you I [simply] feel less sorry for you (185).?

Irving Macher is a ?brilliant young Jewish kid from New York? who attends

Budweiser. (9). He is the author of a bizarre novel, Blikie Heaven, which Joe

asked Roger to critique and publish. Physically he is described by Roger as

?brown-haired?freckled, with a mild crew-cut?with nothing noticeable about

him but a pair of restless grey eyes (11).? He is a round character; Amis

develops him through various encounters with Roger, but static also. He is

Roger?s antagonist. Every time Roget tries to win the love of Helene he steps

in to mess things up. For example, he steals Roger?s lecture notes before

Roger is to give a speech before a few hundred men, is apart of a trick that

involves a young lady biting Roger?s neck and takes Helene to New York. He is

a young who is ready to argue, but also willing to admit his weaknesses. 5.

Minor Characters Ernst Bang is a Germanic philologist, who was originally from

Denmark. He moved to America after taking a leave from Copenhagen, a university

he taught at in Denmark, and received a year?s appointment at Budweiser. He is

married to Helene. In Roger?s mind Ernst is the only thing standing between

him and Helene. He is young and attractive. He is also very trusting, and does

not suspect Roger is having an affair with Helene. Arthur Bang is the son of

Helene and Ernst. He attends a farm school and has especially high aptitudes and

study habits. He is important because he spoils a lot of Roger?s romantic

plans. For example, on Halloween Helene uses the excuse that Arthur would be

home too soon from school for the two to carry out a physical part of the affair

(57). Mollie Atkins is married to Strode Atkins, who considers himself an

Englishman. The two seem happily married. However, she has numerous affairs,

including one with Roger. She is drunk one of the last times that she sees

Roger. Father Colgate is a priest at Budweiser. He is a flamboyantly handsome

and muscular man of thirty, dressed in well-tailored clerical garb (88). He has

a serious concern for Roger?s current state of being and worries over his

soul. Father Colgate is added to the novel to symbolize the constant battle

Roger has between what?s right, God?s way, and what he does. 6. Three Main

Settings Joe Derlanger?s home is one of the most important settings within the

work. It is here that Roger is reunited with Helene and also has his first

physical encounter with Mollie Atkins. Roger arranges to meet with Mollie at a

later time and to call Helene. It is here, too, that the group freely speaks

about English men and bash on the British. For example, in a charade game they

played the group acted out the word ?Brutishly?. The whole gang, including

Helene, managed to make Roger feel degraded (25). The author uses this

moderately neutral atmosphere to acquaint the characters in a relatively short

time span and allows Roger?s mind to wander, divulging the past. The Bangs?

home is where Helene and Roger carry out their affair. The author specifically

uses this setting because he is pointing out the fact Roger cares for no one but

himself. Ernst trusts Roger enough to let him stay with his family, and Roger

repays him by sleeping with his wife. This also puts Helene in an awkward

situation. She is forced to deal with hiding the truth from her son, too.

Despite the awkward conditions the two manage to continue with their passionate

interludes. The atmosphere advances the plot in that Roger uses the home as a

base and continues experiencing the various aspects of America and women while

always returning to the room located next to Helene and Ernst?s. Atkins?

apartment in New York is a setting that the author first introduces at Joe?s

party, but is not an intricate part of the novel until close to the end. Strode

Atkins offers Irving a key to the apartment as a refuge for the young man.

Irving takes Helene to the apartment. They sleep together and spend a night out

on the town. This setting is used as a conflict point between Irving and Roger

and between Roger and Helene. Roger is angry that Irving took Helene to New York

not because he was worried for her safety but because he was jealous and angry.

He traveled all the way to New York to catch them at the apartment, but did not

plan what he?d do. He instantly becomes angry with Irving, wanting to pounce

on him, but is stopped by Helene. Irving comments, ?I?m not only a coward,

I?m also a liar and a thief and I value worldly success too much?In any

event sticks and stones may break my bones, only we?re agreed sticks and

stones are out, and words will never hurt me, no words you?re likely to think

of uttering anyhow?(182).? Robert also faces a confrontation with Helene.

She asks him to go away, and tells him she has never felt the same kind of love

for him that she has felt for her. This is a good setting for this to occur

because no one else is around to stop the dispute. This is a good setting for

Amis to use for a final battle between Irving and Roger, fairly neutral ground.

7.Plot Synopsis The novel begins before an evening party at the estate of Joe

Derlanger. Roger Micheldene and Joe are discussing the guests what will arrive

shortly. Here the author sets the scene as being relaxed and non

confrontational. In the initial scenes the reader is acquainted with most of the

novel?s characters. Also the reader learns Roger is only in the United States

for sixteen days. He hadn?t seen Helene for nearly eighteen months. The past

begins to unravel at Joe?s party. Roger remembers the last time he tried to

make ?verbal love? to Helene, and how Arthur interrupted them. The group

then decides to go swimming. Roger is too embarrassed of his obesity to swim

with the others. Instead he sits neat the side of the pool and tries to enjoy

the Helene?s physical appearance. After dinner that evening, he has a chance

to speak with Helene while the group is playing a game and she gives him her

phone number. Less than an hour later Roger is attracted to Mollie Atkins and

sets up a place to rendezvous with her, too. Roger goes to the Helene?s home

and the two carry on their affair (56). She eventually walks away from his lap

with the excuse that she has a telephone call to make. She then works in the

kitchen and tells Roger no more can happen that day because Arthur will be home

from school soon. Roger says outright, ?Let?s go to bed.? She says no

because it?s Halloween and the school will probably let out early. The reader

is given a new look at Roger. He is not simply upset with the fact Arthur will

be home early, but with the fact Helene did not tell him this earlier. He is

upset that he spent the whole day with her and traveled all the way to her home

thinking that they?d ?go to bed? but thinks the entire day was a waste of

his time because they did not. This shows Roger is not solely interested in

spending time with Helene, but in receiving sexual pleasure. Arthur then returns

home, followed by Ernst. The tension between Arthur and Roger is evident during

their initial conversation and the Scrabble game that the two play together.

Roger is so upset that he could not carry out his plans with Helene and dislikes

Arthur to the point that he calls Mollie Atkins and sets a time for them to

meet. They met at Mollie?s shop and then ventured into a forest to be alone.

They have a picnic and ?sleep together? on the grass. Mollie tells Roger how

dissatisfied she is with her marriage, but that she stays with him because she

has no money or skills (84). While they?re making love Roger is disturbed by

the turtles that are watching them. The next day he travels to Budweiser and

speaks with Father Colgate. There his entire plan is to trick the father into

telling him all about his religious beliefs and then scrutinize them. As a true

Englishman Roger states he is from the Roman Catholic Church. The conflict that

took place between the two was rather large and not subdues until Irving stepped

in and told Roger that he, Roger, is too scripted in his thoughts and

conversations. After overhearing the conversation between Roger and the father

Irving states, ?pretty competent, sir, but overly scripted, wouldn?t you

say? A little lacking in spontaneity? (92)? Roger then regretfully confronted

Irving and was sidetracked. Once again, Irving is Roger?s adversary. Amis

spends some time diving into Roger?s psyche and showing the reader Roger?s

full view on America. As Roger looked out the window of a building at Budweiser

he commented: ?For sophomores or seniors or whatever they were of Budweiser

College, Pa., they seemed not hopelessly barbarous. None of them was chewing gum

or smoking a ten-cent cigar or wearing a raccoon coat or drinking Coca-Cola or

eating a hamburger or sniffing cocaine, or watching television or mugging anyone

or, perforce, driving a Cadillac (90).? Amis is speaking through Roger?s

thoughts and satirizing American culture. Next Roger is supposed to speak before

a large group of people about the publishing industry. However he is very

distressed to find that his research and carefully formulated speech is missing.

However, the committee still wants him to speak, they try and talk him into

giving an impromptu speech but he will not. He wanted to speak marvelously to

impress Helene, but refused to speak impromptu out of anger over the thought

that Arthur had stolen his work and placed a comic book in its place. He

comments, ?If you think I?m going out there to give those people a

fifty-minute impromptu chat you?re doomed to disappointment. They might not be

able to tell the difference between that and a serious lecture but I can. I

won?t do it (100).? Roger then storms back to the Bangs? home and accuses

Arthur. Helene defends his son from the accusations, ?Let me have a look at

that thing?But this is ?Crazy? magazine, not a comic book. Kids don?t

read this-not kids of Arthur?s age. It?s way beyond them. It?s far to

sophisticated (105).? In Roger?s rage he proclaims, ?Arthur?s remarkably

intelligent.? The matter is settled when Ernst turns to the back page of the

magazine and reads the inscription, ?Property of Rho Epsilon Chi Fraternity:

not to be removed from reading room.? Roger then left, got drunk, and then

returned to his room in the Bangs? home only to hear Ernst and Helene together

in the other room. Roger woke the next morning and prepared for the evening?s

party on a Barge that night. In the afternoon, before the party, Helene drops

Arthur off at the zoo with a neighbor so Roger and her may have a few hours

alone to continue their affair. During which time Roger receives a phone call

from Irving, at which time he confesses to having taken Roger?s materials.

Roger is so concerned with this change in developments that he puts his time

with Helene on hold and attempts to take action against Irving. Helen is unhappy

with this and simply leaves Roger. That night Roger Irving and a young woman

play a trick on Roger. Roger ends up with bite marks on his neck, Mollie knowing

that he was ready to have an affair with a young woman and Roger left humiliated

in the dark on the island. Once again Irving catches Roger off guard. The next

day Helene left home without telling Ernst where she went and simply put things

on order for her family. Ernst and Roger talk about where she could be; the

whole time Ernst does not suspect Roger could be having an affair with Helene.

Roger figures he knows where Helene is, with Irving. He gets a hold of Strode

Atkins? apartment key and taxis to New York to find them. In New York he finds

the apartment with no one inside. So he waits for a while and then searched the

town for them. Eventually Roger catches them. However, he is caught off guard,

too. Helen tells him that she has never really loved him and only slept with him

out of pity. She orders him to leave and states she doesn?t want to have

anything more to do with him (181). This obviously hurts Roger, but there?s

nothing he can say in response. The following day he leaves for England. Ernst

and Helene are reunited and all seems back to normal. After sixteen days of

nothing he returns to his wife the same man as when he arrived in America.

Although Helene flatly said she?s through with him and Mollie won?t sleep

with him again, he still has a hope that they will get together during his next

stay in America. 8. Conflicts A major conflict within the novel is Roger?s

lack of self worth due to the fact he is fat. This is evident in the fact that

he believes he is too fat to take of more than his jacket on a hot day and his

belief that his ?mammary development would have been acceptable only if he

could have shed half his weight as well as changing his sex (7).? His

obsession with drinking also has to do with his lack of self-esteem. He is a

womanizer and drinks when he feels down and depressed, nearly all the time.

Another conflict is the fact Roger sees himself as a proper Englishman and does

not agree with most of America?s customs and its abuse of the English

language. ?He normally made a point of not conforming to American usage or

taste in the smallest particular (7).? He has a tough time submitting to the

different language that Americans use and their way of thinking. One night he

got into a deep conversation with a cab driver while drunk. The cab driver

responded, ?Your basic objection to Jack Kennedy appears to be that he is an

American. Don?t think I don?t sympathies, but unfortunately we have this law

here that says the President of the United States has to be a citizen of the

Republic. Unreasonable, I grant you, but there it is. Dura lex sed lex, old man,

which is Iroquois for ?Why don?t you go back to your island and stay

there?. Good-night (108).? There is also a very evident conflict-taking

place between Roger and God. It is obvious God does not agree with Roger?s

lifestyle. However, Roger chooses to call upon the Lord at times that pleases

him. One of his chronic difficulties was reconciling his belief in the

importance of priests and the Church with his apathy towards most of the former

and aversion from most of the doctrines and practices of the latter, a conflict

also to be seen in his relations with the Omnipotent (89). He continues in such

fashion by stating religion ?Superhuman only on scale (91).? Obviously Roger

does not want to bow before a force that does not permit him to have the kind of

fun he wants to. Father Colgate also has a conflict between himself and Roger.

He comments, ?In my calling one very quickly develops what might almost be

called an instinct whereby he comes to detect infallibly the signs of a soul at

variance with God. You, my son, are very disturbed?A man doesn?t act like a

child unless his is hurting him. Your soul is hurting you, Mr. Micheldene.

Won?t you allow me to hear your confession, my son? Soon. The sooner the

better (101).? This is truly a problem and disappointment for Father Colgate

because he genuinely cares for Roger?s soul. The real conflict for Father

Colgate arises when Roger finally asks the father to hear his confessions but is

insincere in his repentance. The father must make the call as to whether or not

Roger?s repenting is valid. There is a conflict between Roger and women in

general. He has been married at least two times and has not managed to remain

faithful. He uses women for sexual pleasure, caring only for his own feelings,

and then comments on how silly women are. He does not like the power they have

over men nor their ability to change men. 9. Major Themes One major theme within

the novel is the search for self worth. Roger tries to find his worth in

meaningless relationships and alcohol because he is so insecure about himself as

an individual. This is parallel to the fact that he is fat. I think most people

have the same type of problem. They feel one aspect of themselves is so hideous

that they try to cover it up inside by lashing out on others or simply using

others to feel good. Amis is pointing this out through Roger?s actions and

relationships. Besides that I have a difficult time finding themes within the

work. I saw how Amis continually pointed out how lust conquered a man and

woman?s sense of right and wrong. However, Helene states she cannot lie to

Ernst about where she is. Obviously her entire life is a lie because he believes

her to be faithful. Perhaps Amis is also trying to point out the fact that

things are not always as they seem. People seem to have good jobs and money, but

that doesn?t account for happiness, as in Joe?s unhappiness with his life

and sudden outbursts of anger. Also he sort of hints at the fact that men are

only out to get what they want and is ready to squash any one who stands in

their way. For example, Roger is angrier with Irving over the fact that he stole

Helene for the weekend then the fact Irving humiliated him so many times.

Overall, I believe Amis wrote very little moral value into the novel, nor did he

incorporate major themes. It seems to me the novel is simply a satire about

American life. Amis also uses outrageous instances to make us fell sorry for the

fat Englishman that is really undeserving of pity because he is so mean and

nasty. 10. My Favorite Scene My favorite scene within the novel is quite simple,

but I find it humorous. Roger is at Helene?s home and her son Arthur just

returned home from school. Arthur is unhappy with Roger being there and Roger is

just as unhappy that the child?s presence spoiled his afternoon plans with

Helene. However, Roger must make an attempt to show Helene that he is

compassionate by trying to befriend Arthur. After a one sided conversation with

Arthur, Roger is about to give up. Then Arthur asked Roger to play scrabble with

him. The two sat down to play and needless to say Roger drew letters from the

bag that offered no chance making a word for quite a while. Arthur, a small

child with a smaller grasp on language than Roger, was winning. Eventually Ernst

came home and Roger was stuck playing the game in front of both Helene and

Roger. ?The humiliation of being routed at a scrabble game by a seven-year-old

seemed destined to pass by Roger (66).? Thus, Roger asked to resign from the

game, but Arthur informed him that resigning is not allowed. Thus, they were

forced to continue playing. Arthur?s next word was N-I-T-E-R. Roger looked at

the word curiously and said ?Niter? What?s that supposed to mean?? Arthur

ironically said, ?You know, like a one-nighter.? To which Roger responded

?No such word? and challenged Arthur. Arthur opened a dictionary and read

?Niter, a Potassium nitrate. A supposed nitrous element.? Roger still argued

with Arthur and said the correct spelling is N-I-T-R-E. When Arthur shook his

head Roger angrily stammered, ?I?But that is a bloody American

dictionary.? To which Arthur responded, ?This is bloody America.? I found

this quite humorous because I could easily visualize the scene. A large man and

a small child playing a game, the older man losing and then the child?s

retort. I also enjoyed the fact Arthur then quoted Roger?s new score of

?minus 21.? 11. The Significance of the title The title of the novel is One

Fat Englishman. The novel is named this because its main character is an

Englishman, Roger, who is considerably overweight, fat. 12. The author?s point

of view The novel?s point of view is third person omniscient. This allows the

reader to know not only what Roger is thinking and feeling but what others are,

too. Thus, the reader does not simply see everything from Roger?s perspective.

Also this allows the reader to understand more of what is going on between and

in scenes.

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