Marilyn Sachs

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The Fat Girl

Sachs, Marilyn

Last Updated: Mar-22-2007
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults


Jeff is happily connected to his beautiful girlfriend, Norma, a skilled potter and social success, when "the fat girl," Ellen, enters their pottery class. Finding himself despising her, Jeff feels responsible when one day she overhears his mean remarks about her fat, her awkwardness, and her incompetence. Attempting to atone for his behavior, he visits her at her home and finds himself involved in more than he anticipated when she confides that she is considering suicide.

For reasons he himself doesn't understand until much later, he gradually becomes both friend and caretaker and, as she loses weight under his guidance, a possessive and supervisory boyfriend. Ellen's transformation eventuates in a new sense of her own worth and objectives, and also in a startling confrontation with the boy from whose help she also has to break free.

Readers are left to ponder the implicit connection between Jeff's controlling behavior toward his girlfriend protégé and his ambivalent relationship with a mother whose reaction to divorce has been to control her children in ways that entrap them. Both the protagonists learn valuable and also very painful lessons.

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