by Edward Bloor
Big house, nice lawn, matching mailboxes: what more does a family need? If you're Mrs. Fisher, the answer is—not much. Certainly not praise or unconditional love. But how bad is she, really?
Does This Mailbox Make Me Look Fat?
Mrs. Fisher is all about appearances. She immediately joins their community's Architectural Committee, and gets her kicks out of ensuring that every house in the neighborhood has matching mailboxes or regulation paint color.
Check out how seriously she takes her job: she gets super upset over the fact that Mr. Donnelly, whose house has been hit by lightning several times, has put up more lightning rods than he was approved for. In fact, she's so upset that she doesn't want to socialize with him anymore. So, if his house gets burned to a crisp by lightning, it would look better than having a few extra rods on the roof? Weird.
As long as any problems within their family stay hidden from sight, Mrs. Fisher can pretend that they never happened. No one else but the family knows what happened to Paul's eyes—not even Paul—so they're safe there. All of Erik's teasing and crimes are done in secret, so they're not a problem. And when they do have to be addressed, she controls the information flow to the outside world.
Case in point? It takes her weeks to figure out how to present the fact of Erik and Arthur's thefts to her neighbors, and downplay it as much as possible. She gets angrier about Paul jumping on Coach Warner than she does about Erik murdering Luis, because Paul's fight was in public. Mrs. Fisher just wants to look perfect to the outside world—she doesn't care if it's true.
Remember the zombies from the first few chapters? Mrs. Fisher basically tries to cake its face with make-up and tie a bow on its head. Ew.
Do the Safety Dance
Mrs. Fishes does care about one other thing: safety. It's weird, since she didn't seem too concerned about ensuring little Paul's safety by teaching Erik not to hurt people. But she worries about kids riding in the backs of pick-up trucks, and single-handedly organizes the protest against afternoon football practices after lightning kills Mike Costello.
Could she be trying to make up for what she allowed to happen to Paul? Or just trying to show the outside world that she is the most safety-conscious mom in town?
Unfortunately, we think it probably comes down to appearances. Check it out:
First, when Paul escapes the life-or-death situation of the sinkhole, she doesn't seem all that upset. You know, because it's no big deal when your youngest son almost gets sucked down into a muddy grave—alive.
Second, when Paul finally confronts her about his past, she breaks down and cries, because she feels sorry for herself. She never hugs him, or says she's sorry. She just tries to explain it away: "Mom spoke with her eyes closed, as if she weren't really there, as if she were coming in over the radio" (3.9.98).
For Paul's sake, we hope that she changes. But it's not looking too good right now.