Study Guide

Fudge in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

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Baby of the Family

Farley Drexel "Fudge" Hatcher, Peter's little brother, is definitely treated like the baby of the family. He's smack in the middle of the "terrible twos." At the beginning of the book, Fudge is still sleeping in a crib because he hasn't graduated to a "real" bed yet:

My mother moved Fudge's crib into my room. He's going to get a regular bed when he's three, my mother says. (2.4)

And it's because of his baby status that his parents do tend to give him more leeway. His mother in particular is apt to let Fudge get away with murder, at least in Peter's opinion. She even lets him eat off of the ground like a dog:

He barked and nodded his head. So my mother fixed his plate and put it under the table. Then she reached down and petted him like he was a real dog.

My father said, "Aren't we carrying this a little too far?" (3.22-23)

Although Fudge makes some pretty outlandish demands and does things that Peter would never be allowed to do, he gets a pass because he's a little kid. Fudge is just too young to understand the consequences of what he does; he thinks he's acting cute and funny. He seems to know how to charm the pants off adults, much to Peter's dismay. And Fudge is really smart. He's got a good thing going, being an adorable toddler, and it drives Peter bonkers.

Reign of Terror

Because Fudge is just a two-year-old at the beginning of the stories and turns three over the course of the book, he's an expert in creating total chaos. Peter just can't deal with him and describes his brother as an absolute terror:

Fudge is always in my way. He messes up everything he sees. And when he gets mad he throws himself flat on the floor and he screams. And he kicks. And he bangs his fists. The only time I really like him is when he's sleeping. He sucks four fingers on his left hand and makes a slurping noise. (1.20)

Fudge is a tantrum expert. If he doesn't get his way, he loses it, and his mom usually gives in. She makes Peter literally stand on his head in order to convince Fudge to eat, even though Peter knows that he'll eat eventually when he gets hungry enough.

Fudge's misbehavior lands him in the hospital, stresses out his mother, drives out house guests, and even loses his father an important job. But it's Peter who seems to get the worst of it. Fudge goes through his stuff, destroys his school projects, and actually eats Peter's pet turtle. That's just not okay:

"How could you let him do it?"

"Let who do what, Peter?" Mom asked.

"LET FUDGE EAT DRIBBLE," I screamed. (10.26-28)

There's no doubt about it, Fudge is a huge challenge to live with. And after reading through all of Peter's stories, the reader can't help but feel bad for him. All two-year-olds are mischievous, but this little guy takes things to a whole new level.

Just Like Pee-tah

But here's the thing about Fudge—he doesn't hate his big brother. He's not out to ruin Peter's life because he wants to make him miserable. No, a lot of Fudge's annoying traits stem from typical younger sibling feelings. He wants to be just like Peter. For example, when they go to buy new shoes, Fudge throws a fit because he doesn't want to wear these ugly baby shoes:

Fudge sat up. "Like Pee-tah's." he said.

I smiled. I guess the kid really looks up to me. He even wants to wear the same kind of shoes. (6.93-94)

So Peter then has to try on the baby-ish shoes and pretend like he's going to buy them too just so that Fudge will agree to them. It's a whole complicated charade that he has to go through, and it's all because Fudge admires his big brother and wants to be just like him. Mrs. Hatcher knows it, and she uses it to get Fudge to do what she wants. Even Dr. Brown, the dentist, knows how to get Fudge to open his mouth:

"No, I'm sorry, Fudge," Dr. Brown said, "it's still not as good as Peter."

So Fudge opened his mouth really wide. "Count teeth." he said. "Count Fudgie's teeth." (6.36-37)

Scribbling on Peter's project is just Fudge's version of doing a school project—just like Peter. Even barging into Peter's room and messing with Dribble (except maybe the eating part) is about wanting to be a big boy who's old enough to own a pet—just like Peter. He's just too little to figure out how to do it right.

See, even Shmoop is giving Fudge a break. Sorry, Peter, we can't help it. He's just so cuuuute…

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