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'Ball of Fat', Guy de Maupassant

'Ball of Fat'1 is the English translation of a short story title written by the French author Guy de Maupassant.  The French is Boule de Suife.  Ball of fat is the nickname of the story's protagonist.  So nicknamed because she is, although pretty, fat and has, I imagine, a rotund shape.  I'm glad I read the story.  It was the first thing I've ever read by Guy de Maupassant and it's a famous story.

I can't say I'd recommend the story though.  I think the story is mostly famous because the author shows sensitivity and some quite good descriptive abilities.   I would recommend it for someone who has an interest in the writing of Guy de Maupassant or even an interest in fiction writing in general, but not for someone looking for an entertaining or emotive story.  Basically, the story seems to me to be about the craft of Guy de Maupassant's writing rather than characters, events, and themes.  Reading it is sort of like seeing the beams and supports of a building rather than the architectural design or facade.  That 's my impression of the story.

Now we get to the strange part. There is a theme in the story.  That theme deals with sacrifice.  Not one review or analysis of the story that I looked at mentioned anything about the nickname 'ball of fat' as being an allusion to anything.  It was as if ball of fat had no meaning.  Imagine this; you're introduced to a brother and sister with this introduction, 'Hi, my name is George, this is my sister Ball of Fat.'  Then having been introduced you say to yourself, 'That's kind of weird, but I guess it's just because she's sort of fat.'  Then you move on to the Hors'Duerve table without any further thought to the name Ball of Fat. Well, I can't believe that there's nothing more to that name.

What more is there?  Well, has no one heard of a sacrifice of a FATTED calf?  Fatted calf - Ball of Fat!?

I think  this story's theme is sacrifice as payment to a greater being.  That's basically what happens in the story, but not one review mentions anything about the name Ball of Fat alluding to a sacrifice of a fatted calf or similar.  Some do mention sacrifice as a theme, but it's the kind of sacrifice which is a self-sacrifice rather than a sacrificial offering.  Those reviews mention a self-sacrificing choice of the character.  I don't believe, thematically speaking, that self-sacrifice was de Maupassant's intended meaning.  A sacrificial presentation as a consecration to a greater being is a more apt description of the theme than is the alternate interpretation of Boule de Suif's self-sacrifice.

I really am exasperated by this omission.  Of course I didn't do a thorough search of the reviews but I would have thought such an obvious allusion would have been mentioned in most reviews right off the bat.  But, nothing.  Call me wrong or crazy, but don't call me disengaged.


1Boule de Suif, Guy de Maupassant, http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/453/,  www.readbookonline.net



 




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