Neil LaBute’s “Fat Pig” is one of the well documented plays that reflect the challenges individuals go through in relationships. One of the major challenges, as pointed out, is personality disorder. Personality disorder is the state where an individual lives in his or her own world emotionally. An affected individual reflects behavioral characteristics such as instability in moods, increased anxiety, lack of acceptance of self, and many others. Neil LaBute helps us to see the inside part of our lives. He provokes the reader to look at him/ her through the eyes of others to be able to see one’s flaws.
Tom and Helen, who are in love, suffer from personality disorder. A study of their behavior reflects in the fact that they make their choices to please the outsiders rather than themselves. Evidently, Tom appears to be in love with Helen but too conscious about his surrounding hence ends up living in fear. Helen on the other hand is considered a plus size making her too conscious about her looks and what people say about her. This denies them a comfortable and enjoyable love life. Dave Logghe’s view on the play is quite accurate. He points out the biggest challenge; personality disorder, which hurts the characters of this play. He also brings out the fact that an individual who suffers from personality disorder keeps making his decisions in relation to the views of other people who do not care much about them. Tom, Helen, Carter, and Jeannie are a good example of today’s society. They reflect the challenges couples face in their relationships on a daily basis. Carter, on the other hand, is a representation of the peer pressure individuals in a relationship face. An increase in peer pressure on the characters affects their personality as well as their decisions.
During their first conversation at the restaurant, Tom appears to lack confidence in what he was doing and saying. As much as he was having a warm talk with a beautiful woman, he was too self conscious, suggesting that he cared too much about his image and reputation rather than his growing relationship with his girlfriend. The woman turns to him and encourages him not to be too nervous since they were to start dating. She states “You shouldn’t be so nervous… I mean, if we’re gonna start dating.” (Labute 6). He is also seen looking around with so much self consciousness as if to look out on whether anybody had heard their conversation or was listening to them. He also finds it challenging to ask for another date with Helen. He states, “I dunno…I mean, I’m just, it’d be good, I think, you seem really nice and I’m…what can I say, I’m just asking…sort of outta the blue, so could we? [Beat] I’m not trying to pick you up or anything. I just…” (Labute 13). Helen appears to have noted his struggle, picks up the conversation by accepting the date, and gives a suggestion on where they could go or what they could do.
The main character, Tom is forced to say and do things with a high sense of self examination. He seems to be thinking hard before making a statement to any of his counterparts. This is reflected through his choice of words during the times he converses with Helen and his friend Carter. Neil LaBute uses Tom to help the reader examine the truths hidden in oneself as well as humanity. It is clearly evident that most humans have damaged personalities hence their desire to please the outside world more than their inner selves have. It may be difficult for Tom to admit that he was in love with Helen, a plus-sized woman since he had a preconceived mind that the society regarded such women as unattractive. In her conversation with Carter, he admits not to be obsessed by bodies; however, towards the end, he succumbs to pressure and breaks his relationship with his girlfriend, Helen. This contradicts his belief and he ends up losing out on a good looking relationship.
A person who has a personality disorder will often exhibit certain characteristics. One of the common ones is that such a person who has no confidence in his or her relationship hence ends up having several partners ending up in broken relationships. Reading the play it is easy to note that Tom tries to fight this disorder. He does not have the capacity to hold onto a relationship for long hence ends up breaking the heart of many girls including his co-worker Jeannie. It is quite unfortunate that he ends up dating Helen at a time when he was going out with Jeannie. Jeannie receives this message in the crudest way when Carter breaks the ice right in Tom’s office during a casual conversation.
It is also evident that such a person finds it difficult to stand by his or her decision or defend the decision he/she takes. Clearly, Helen is proud of the relationship she is in. She admits to Tom that she would love him to even pick her from work. She states, “I’m dying to show you off, Tom, if you’d let me…I’ve told you to pick me up at work, all kinds of things!” (LaBute 58). However, Tom, on the other hand appears to be hesitant in showing her off to his friends or confirming to people that he is in love. He seems to be hiding the fact that they are in a relationship and even keeps looking around to see whether there was anyone seeing him with a plus size date. Carter seems to have realized that Tom is in love with another girl apart from Jennie and tries to make him admit. Apparently, Tom finds it too difficult to admit the truth to him and ends up lying about his Friday plan, which was to go out on a date with Helen.
Carter: Whatever. We on for basketball Friday? Chad can’t make it any other time…
Tom: Aaah yeah. But after nine, okay? I’ve got a dinner thing. (off of CARTER’S look) For work, dumbshit.
Tom: It is! I’ve got those folks from the aah …you know…
Carter: No what? (LaBute 22).
From the look of things, Tom is not enslaved in this defect alone. His girlfriend, Helen exhibits characteristics that suggest the difficulty in dealing with her personality disorder too. During her first conversation with Tom, she appears to be overly protective of her feelings towards the fact that she is obese. Seemingly, she is yet to admit that she is overweight, and she seems to be too defensive of her eating habits. She is also overly sensitive of the words that are used on her by other people, including Tom. In her conversation with Tom, one easily realizes that she was not proud of her looks.
Woman: I thought you meant me. Before
Man: I’m sorry.
Woman: When you said that “pretty big”, I thought you were saying that to me. About me.
Man: oh no, God no! I wouldn’t …you did? (LaBute 2)
Helen finds it heavenly to be loved by such a young handsome man-Tom. However, she still doubts her acceptance in the life of Tom. She asks, “I hope you are not embarrassed by me in some way, because, well, I mean….I doesn’t know what…” (LaBute 59). This shows her lack of self confidence. She lives in denial believing that she does not deserve love that easily hence the question of doubt to her boyfriend.
In conclusion, Neil LaBute’s play “Fat Pig” is an excellent work that relates to personality disorders among individuals. The main characters in the play, Tom, as well as his girlfriend portray personality disorders through their conversations and actions. Tom ends up breaking a relationship with his Helen, not because of a difference between them, but because of his concern about his image and the peer pressure, he encounters from his friend Carter. Helen suffers from the same disorder due to her refusal to accept her state of being obese. Her state affects her actions as well as her relationship with her boyfriend. Evidently, relationships between couples suffer as a result of disorders in people’s personalities. Couples who have prosperous relationships equally possess whole personalities. They are confident in themselves and their decisions.