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Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Final Project
Transcript of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Final Project
Crispy Pork Rinds represents the friendship between Eric and Sarah Byrnes. They became friends because they were both social outcasts, because of their physical appearances. Eric was very fat and Sarah had horrible burns all over her face and arms. In middle school, they wrote a newspaper article called Crispy Pork Rinds. They called it that because she was the crispy (because of her burns), he was the pork (because he was fat), and they were both the rinds, or the parts that is left, that no on pays attention to.
Sarah Byrnes is a tough, headstrong girl who is determined to not let her appearance get in the way of anything she does. When she was three years old, she spilled a pot of boiling spaghetti on herself, causing the burns all over her hands and face. Her father refused to pay for the plastic surgery required to get the scarring removed, saying that Sarah Byrnes, at three years old, should live with the choices she made. Sarah Byrnes, now eighteen, has gone through bullying of all kinds because of these burns, and has made two friends in her life. Eric, and Dale Thornton. One day, she got sick of everything, and shut down. She won't talk or react to anything anyone does, and was put in the hospital at a mental ward because of it.
Eric is the main character in the book. His father left his mother when she was eight months pregnant. Eric has had a lot of weight issues throughout his life. Because of his weight, he went through a lot of bullying, and as a kid he was fat, shy, and nervous of everyone. He didn't make any friends, except for Sarah Byrnes. They were both social outcasts, and became long friends. In high school, his unhealthy weight prompted Eric joined the swim team, and he started to make new friends and spending a lot of time in the pool. He thought that his friendship with Sarah Byrnes had stayed the same, but was completely shocked when she was admitted into the hospital.
Dale has a father who seemed to always be drunk, and a mother who ran away with his father's brother. That was one of the reasons why Sarah Byrnes and Dale became friends, because they both had bad fathers. Dale was a bully, terrorizing middle school kids because he couldn't pass eighth grade, until he eventually drops out of school. He did his fair share of bullying Sarah Byrnes and Eric, calling them mean names while he punched them and beat them up. However, the three of them became friends because they had the same enemy, vice principal Mautz. Actually, Eric never liked Dale and was always terrified of him, but he needed Dale's help to try and help Sarah Byrnes while she was in the hospital.
Mrs Lemry is Eric's swim coach, and she is always pushing him to try his best. She is also his Contemporary American Thought (CAT) teacher. CAT is a very important class because through it, the characters address issues that come up in their lives. Mrs. Lemry uses her past (she was bullyed a lot as a child and considered suicide) to help guide Eric, Sarah Byrnes, and other main characters like Mark and Jody when they need it.
Eric has had a huge crush on Jody for three years. However, she starts off as Mark's girlfriend. They go to the same church and live similar Christian lifestyles. She is soft spoken, but soon gets fed up with Mark and his lying.
Mark's life is almost suffocatingly Christian. His dad puts a lot of pressure on his children to be the perfect Christian children, and you can't even get very far in a conversation with him without hearing the word "Christian". He's also not very nice to Eric and Ellerby, probably because they don't take him seriously. Mark's on the swim team with the both of them, and they are always teaming up to out-swim him during practice. They make fun of Mark, but how would they hold out if they were in the same position as him?
Ellerby is Eric's best friend next to Sarah Byrnes. They met through swimming and have fun together inside and outside of the pool, especially when they are beating Mark Brittain. Mark and Ellerby have been tormenting each other for years, and it all kind of started with religion. Ellerby's father is a preacher, and Ellerby chooses to show his religion in a different way that Mark does- with a car that blasts songs like "The Lords Prayer" through it's horn and has quotes from the bible along with statements on how he loves his dog written along the sides.
After Eric started swimming, he also started to lose weight. However, Sarah Byrnes' friendship meant a whole lot to him, and he didn't want her to think that he was leaving her. So, for an entire year, Eric would eat and eat and eat. He was overeating so much that he managed to stay as fat as he was, even though he hated being fat, for a year, until Sarah Byrnes confronted him on what he was doing and made him stop. This act of friendship really showed Sarah Byrnes that she could trust him, which influences her later decisions.
One day, Sarah Byrnes shut down. She stopped talking and reacting to anything anyone did, and Eric has a suspicion that it has something to do with her father, and wanting to get away from him. While Sarah Byrnes is at the hospital, she learns a lot about other people and their stories which help her come to terms with her own life.
Eric has always known that Sarah Byrnes' dad was a scary man. He also knew that he was a little violent and had a temper. But he never imagined that it was Mr. Byrnes who was at fault for the terrible burns on Sarah Byrnes' face and hands. When his daughter was three years old, he was in a huge fight with his wife, and it looked like he was going to kill her. Sarah Byrnes ran to them and screamed and cried for them to stop, so her father lifted her up and pushed her face down on a burning wood stove. He also has done things to her over the years like tying her up and not letting her eat. Eric learns all this partly from Dale, but mostly from Sarah Byrnes when she confirms his suspicion that she is just using the hospital to get away from her father, and can hear everything that people say to her.
In CAT class, the students talk about religion, abortion and other issues that apply to the people of the world. Everyone gets into a lot of arguments during this class, especially Mark Brittain, because of his beliefs and his habit to bring them into every discussion. He has strong opinions on God, and on the horribleness of abortion, a topic that they talk about a lot.
Eric also learns from Dale that Sarah Byrnes has seriously thought about suicide many times.
Around this time, Eric learns that Jody and Mark got pregnant, and Mark made Jody have and abortion. This comes as a huge surprise to Eric, especially because of Mark's beliefs about abortion and how he tells everyone that people who do it will have a hard time staying away from hell. Apparently, Mark thought that one error should not ruin his life, and that since he was dedicated to God, he got a free pass for this. He also blamed the whole thing on Jody for not protecting herself.
Sarah Byrnes tells Eric, in the form of a letter, how she has come to terms with herself through the other kids with her in the hospital that have been through just as much or worse than she has. She knows that she needs to find her mother, because she is the only one who can help her get away from her father. After reading this letter, Eric knew that he had to get someone, an adult, to help him. He turns to Lemry, his swim coach and teacher, and tells her everything. She agrees that they need to find her mother, and fast.
Searching for Clues
Eric learns from Dale that the most likely place to find Sarah Byrnes' mother is in Reno, Nevada.
Eric starts going out with Jody, after Jody broke up with Mark. This makes Mark really mad and think that Eric is doing this just to get to him.
After Sarah Byrnes learned that Eric had told Lemry everything, she had an outburst that caused the nurses to learn that she could speak. After that, she snuck out of the hospital and now, she is staying with Lemry.
In the middle of one of Mark's rants on how abortion is bad in the eyes of God, Jody tells that class all about her abortion. She was sick of Mark, and needed to tell people. She humiliated him and made his status as the perfect Christian boy waver.
Mark Brittain tried to kill himself the night of being put in his place by Jody. The stresses of living in his family and the guilt of what he did to Jody caught up to him, and he was left on the edge of a coma in the hospital.
Sarah Byrnes and Lemry make the decision to go to Reno together to try and find her mother. They know that she is basically their only hope, because she could testify about the burning incident better than Sarah Byrnes could, since she was only three years old at the time.
After Lemry and Sarah Byrnes left, Ellerby and Eric get called to the vice principal's office to talk to Mautz and Mr. Brittain. They believe that the two of them, along with the CAT class, are the reason for Mark's attempted suicide. Ellerby brings in his dad, who talks about the separation between religion, church, and the school with Mr. Mautz.
Eric was driving home when Mr. Byrnes revealed that he was in the backseat and presses a knife to his throat. He made Eric drive to a dark area and used the knife to try to get his daughters whereabouts out of him. After a lot of chasing, Mr. Byrnes finally gets the information he needs but leaves Eric banged up with a knife stuck in his shoulder. Eric manages to get to Dale's house and gets him to call 911 before passing out.
Eric gets put in a hospital, and no one knows where Mr. Byrnes is. Also, Eric told everybody about the truth of Mr. Byrnes. While Eric is in the hospital, Lemry visited him. She tells him that they found Mrs. Byrnes, but she refused to come back with them. When Lemry and Sarah Byrnes found Mrs. Byrnes, she first ran away from them, and then denied that she was Sarah Byrnes' mother. Then, she tried to convince them that she left before the burning incident. After some yelling from Sarah Byrnes asking how could she leave her daughter with a man who could do something like that to his daughter, she told them how sorry she was. However, she still refused to come back because she knew that if she did, she would never survive the humiliation and she would commit suicide. She was better off just staying there.
Mark came to Eric's room in the hospital the night before he would go back to school. He talked ut how he was sorry for everything, and that he was scared to face everyone at school. Eric advised him to admit that he messed up and be honest with everyone. Mark also mentioned that Ellerby's dad came to him and asked if he wanted to look at different views on Christianity, and that he had agreed.
Sarah Byrnes snuck into the hospital and told Eric that she was leaving, because she would never be safe with her dad on the loose. After she left, he called Lemry and the searched for her in the streets until they found her, and forced her to come back with them. A while after, Eric's mother's boyfriend, Carver, tracked down Mr. Byrnes and put him in the hospital. Carver had a bad past. His father took his own life when he was eight and he fought in Vietnam twice, and during both times at least 75% of his unit suffered casualties. However, he doesn't talk about his past unless it will help others, so you learn more and more about him as the book goes on. He had been watching Eric go through all this and heard all about Sarah Byrnes' situation, so he knew that a man like that had to go to jail.
Happily Ever After
Eric got a scholarship for swimming into a small college, and is excited to swim four more years for a team. Sarah Byrnes was adopted by Lemry, and will go to community college while looking at a group home where kids who are handicapped, have terminal illnesses, or have permanent disfigurement go to get taken care of. Ellerby is going to a different college for swimming, but they will be close. Jody is going to college on the other side of the state, but they are trying to make it work. Carver was only sentenced to six months on work release for breaking and entering and assault charges, and Eric seems to believe that no matter what happens, him and his mother will get married.
I really liked this book. It addressed so many different issues, and I liked how to stories were going on at the same time, on with Mark and Jody, and the other about Sarah Byrnes.
Throughout this book, bad things kept happening to people. Eric says in the book "It aint a trip where heroes come from". I think that means that bad things happen to people, but you can tell the good in people by what they do because of them. I believe that that is the theme of the book
Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes.