Common Attributes of Peter Carey's Short Stories
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
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He is once again isolated by her transformations from woman to man to woman to doll. The fat men in A Fat Man in History all lust after “Florence Nightingale”. The simple fact they call her that despite her name being Nancy Bowlby suggests this much, with more evidence found when they all crowd into the room with expectation the night the rent is due and clamour to get her attention when she arrives. Furthermore, Finch admits to fantasising about her in one of her “secret visits” to his room, and the-man-who-won’t-give-his-name obviously feels something towards her as he sleeps with her. This love and adoration of Florence leads to a divide between all members of the gang, isolating them mentally. It also allows Florence to trap them as part of her social experiment. In Crabs, the main character borrows the car from his friend Frank. He is then targeted by the Karboys who steal parts of the loaned car, leaving Crabs unable to get himself and his girlfriend home. This incident, combined with the fact the car was loaned, leads to Crabs’ entrapment in the drive in, as he is determined to return the car with the right parts. It also isolates him as he waits for the correct car to come to steal the parts from, and he becomes more irritated and edgy as time goes by. The relationship between him and Frank is what causes his isolation from his girlfriend and others in the story.
In all three Peter Carey stories studied from The Collected Works of Peter Carey,