WEGG Question #12 ~ Food

by Peter Hedges

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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WEGG Question #12 ~ Food

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:33 am

How does Hedges use the subject of food throughout the story?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Unread postby Iceflower » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:42 am

He uses food as comfort for the characters, they it when they feel sad and lonly. Ecpecially for momma, she eat all the time, because she doesn't want to think about anything else. She sleep, eat and watch TV, eat, sleep and eat. It is to bad but he shows how people uses food as comfort.

They also eat a lot of food because it is those times friends meet together. They eat and talk. And as Becky said, Watermalon is more interesting inside, so he uses it has a symbol on people. To tell how they feel and what they mean.

Looking forward to read about what everyone else think. Didn't have much clue. :-P
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:06 am

Yes, Momma was obsessed with her food, but I noticed that Gilbert seldom wanted to eat, especially with his family. I started keeping track of how many times he said he wasn't hungry and found at least eleven. I was worried about how he could live that way! :-? :-/ Sad, because it seemed that usually the reason he wasn't hungry was because he was too upset by something. The "first time in years" he cleaned his plate was when he had breakfast with Becky's grandmother. At Burger Barn he just has water, but actually eats a few bites of cake after being moved by the sweet celebration.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:27 am

I think Gilbert might have seen food in his house as something different than anywhere else.Actually I have no idea where I'm going with this. Perhaps he thought if he ate food in his house he might become like Momma. :perplexed:

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Unread postby radwen » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:09 am

I agree GG

Didn't he stop eating at home after having to take the loan from Mr. Lamson to buy groceries? This really bothered him.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:16 am

Keep those answers coming, Noodlemantras...this is going to be an interesting discussion question! :mort1:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Endora » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:26 am

I like Iceflowers points about comfort eating. It seems to me that they ate because they couldn't be bothered to stop themselves, or hadn't the energy to do something else. But it also went with the idea of one generation turning into the last. Gilbert could see his sister turning into him mother, she'd taken on the role in the household and was aquiring the shape, and with all the comments about how he looked like his father, and now that he had the father's role in the house (a question in itself there, Liz and DITHOT) maybe he would turn into his father, with the same depressive consequences.

I'm sure this food metaphor is deeper and more subtle but I can't seem to nail it.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:28 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Keep those answers coming, Noodlemantras...this is going to be an interesting discussion question! :mort1:


Agreed, DITHOT! :cool:

I think he was so repulsed by watching Momma stuff her face and by what food had done to her and the family that he lost his appetite. And, like Radwen said, it seemed to start after he got the loan from Mr. Lamson. So it could also be tied to wanting to spend less on food. He would be one less mouth to feed.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:36 am

Endora wrote:I like Iceflowers points about comfort eating. It seems to me that they ate because they couldn't be bothered to stop themselves, or hadn't the energy to do something else. But it also went with the idea of one generation turning into the last. Gilbert could see his sister turning into him mother, she'd taken on the role in the household and was aquiring the shape, and with all the comments about how he looked like his father, and now that he had the father's role in the house (a question in itself there, Liz and DITHOT) maybe he would turn into his father, with the same depressive consequences.

I'm sure this food metaphor is deeper and more subtle but I can't seem to nail it.


Endora, we do have a question coming up about the father. :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby SamIam » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:07 am

Hedges uses the subject of food throughout the story in several ways. First, it is way for the family to connect. The only time they talk to each other is at dinner and even then they don't talk that much.

Gilbert uses it like an anorexic or bulimic would. It is the only thing he can control in his life just like he can only control the way he pays for things in exact change. He also has a fear of turning out like his mom and being depressed like his father so he uses food as a way to control at least one aspect of his life the way that anorexics and bulimics do.

Becky uses it as a metaphor for looking beyond the exterior of things. She wanted Gilbert to look beyond her beauty and see her as the intelligent wise person she is.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:29 am

SamIam wrote:Hedges uses the subject of food throughout the story in several ways. First, it is way for the family to connect. The only time they talk to each other is at dinner and even then they don't talk that much.

Gilbert uses it like an anorexic or bulimic would. It is the only thing he can control in his life just like he can only control the way he pays for things in exact change. He also has a fear of turning out like his mom and being depressed like his father so he uses food as a way to control at least one aspect of his life the way that anorexics and bulimics do.

Becky uses it as a metaphor for looking beyond the exterior of things. She wanted Gilbert to look beyond her beauty and see her as the intelligent wise person she is.


:-O Whoa! I agree with all of your points. But the one comparing Gilbert's use of food to that of an anorexic just blew me away. Like someone said recently, what's so great about these discussions is that we get different perspectives on the book. It just seems so obvious now when you point it out. But it went right over my head while reading the book.
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Unread postby SamIam » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:47 pm

Liz wrote:
SamIam wrote:Hedges uses the subject of food throughout the story in several ways. First, it is way for the family to connect. The only time they talk to each other is at dinner and even then they don't talk that much.

Gilbert uses it like an anorexic or bulimic would. It is the only thing he can control in his life just like he can only control the way he pays for things in exact change. He also has a fear of turning out like his mom and being depressed like his father so he uses food as a way to control at least one aspect of his life the way that anorexics and bulimics do.

Becky uses it as a metaphor for looking beyond the exterior of things. She wanted Gilbert to look beyond her beauty and see her as the intelligent wise person she is.


:-O Whoa! I agree with all of your points. But the one comparing Gilbert's use of food to that of an anorexic just blew me away. Like someone said recently, what's so great about these discussions is that we get different perspectives on the book. It just seems so obvious now when you point it out. But it went right over my head while reading the book.

Thank you, Liz. It's what makes these discussions so much fun. You learn so much and get to see what others thought of the book and if you agree/disagree with what they say. I still haven't finished the book though. :blush: I'm glad I could help you figure it out.
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Unread postby Bix » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:03 pm

Excellent points, everyone, as usual. There were two food scenes that especially struck me.

One was where Gilbert brings Mama her salad bowl of Cheerios and gallon of milk when everyone else is busy and she says something like, "When did you start loving your mother?" and he says "Is that what this is?" and she goes back to watching tv and life goes on as usual. I think some of you have answered his question here, but that scene just really stuck with me.

The other is after the birthday party, when Momma has gone upstairs and Amy brings the leftover cake out and asks Gilbert and Janice to help her eat it all before Momma wakes up again. And they do it! Gilbert says it takes about 20 minutes of chewing for the three of them to finish it off. Why would the guy who will hardly touch food at home, the sister who is worried about gaining weight, and the sister who is the fashion plate watching her figure stuff down a nasty, grocery-store-bought cake? I think it was an act of protecting their mother (from herself, of course). Why wouldn't Amy just throw it away and take out the garbage? I guess because they would have to lie to Momma when she asked whether there was any cake left. If they actually ate it, it wouldn't be a lie to say no, whereas if they threw it away, they would feel guilty.

I don't think I answered any questions here. :blush: Those were just two food scenes that really caught my attention while I was reading.
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Unread postby gemini » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:57 pm

How does Hedges use the subject of food throughout the story?

Really Hedges uses food as a positive and a negative thing just like it is in real life. It is what gets families together for celebrations but its also a means of comfort for the severely depressed like Momma.

One thing I thought whenever Gilbert wouldn't eat was that he may be worried about hereditary traits since Momma got heavy. I also think he worries about the same thing where his father is concerned with suicide.

Becky is the only one that uses food as a metaphor.

It is strange that the main businesses in the story are all food related. Lamsens grocery, Food Land, Burger Barn, and the Dairy Dream. Gilbert even describes Melanies hairdo as cotten candy.
Last edited by gemini on Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:24 pm

gemini wrote:It is strange that the main businesses in the story are all food related. Lamsens grocery, Food Land, Burger Barn, and the Dairy Dream. Gilbert even describes Melanies hairdo as cotten candy.

And don't forget the Ramp Cafe...
"I never wanted to be remembered for being a star."


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