Common Attributes of Peter Carey's Short Stories

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The Collected Stories of Peter Carey

An analysis of several of the stories in The Collected Stories of Peter Carey reveals numerous common attributes, leading to the aspects of entrapment and isolation appearing as common aspects of the stories. These come across in both the physical and mental form. Often the entire experience of entrapment and isolation is the result of the interaction of both forms. The quality of entrapment seen throughout Crabs, Peeling and A Fat Man in History relies on lies. In Crabs, the main character and his girlfriend become “stranded” at the drive in after their car parts have been stolen and the manager of the drive in tells them there is no way that they can leave, in effect lying to them. The same form of lying is adopted by Florence Nightingale in A Fat Man in History, as she makes them believe that they really can’t do anything to escape their place as the hated fat people in society except rebel against the government, suggesting all sorts of odd methods to do so such as ‘eating the statue’. The lying is slightly different in Peeling. The narrator has fallen into a trap of self-deception, unwilling to accept the harsh truth, preferring to take ‘slow pleasure’ in ‘superficial things’. This allows him a more pleasant state of mind, but at the same time entraps him in a world of lies which will undoubtedly cause some distress once he is forced to see the truth. For entrapment to be further entwined in these three Peter Carey stories, the use of blind acceptance is also employed. This means the characters need to believe that they are physically trapped. Those in Crabs are told they can’t get out of the drive in but aren’t physically trapped at first, yet they don’t try to rebel against the government by walking out of the drive in or attempting to escape in any way unless they have a functioning car. At some point they do become physically trapped as the government fence them in. The gang in A Fat Man in History just accept that...
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