Study Guide

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Guilt and Blame

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Guilt and Blame

"I can use another one," I explained. "I really can. That old one is falling apart." I tried to laugh.

"It's returnable," Mrs. Yarby said. "It's silly to keep it if you already have one." She sounded insulted. Like it was my fault she brought me something I already had. (2.70-71)

Instead of being gracious about having brought Peter something that he already had, Mrs. Yarby seems to blame the situation on him. Peter's really acting more grownup than she is in this case, don't you think?

"HATCHER." Mr. Yarby boomed. "Make him get that thing out of here."

I wondered why Mr. Yarby called my father "Hatcher." Didn't he know his first name was Warren? And I didn't like the way Mr. and Mrs. Yarby both called Dribble a "thing." (2.81-82)

Peter finds this totally rude. It's not Mr. Hatcher's fault that Fudge brought out the turtle. The Yarbys don't have kids, so they think that it's possible to totally control a two-year-old. Fudge probably thought, who wouldn't want to see a turtle?

When Mr. Yarby went into Fudge's bedroom to pick up his suitcase, his voice boomed. "HATCHER."

My father ran toward the bedroom… When we got there we saw Fudge sitting on the Yarbys' suitcase. He had decorated it with about one hundred green stamps. (2.105-106)

Mr. Hatcher has to take the blame for all of Fudge's transgressions during Mr. and Mrs. Yarby's visit. Mr. Yarby seems intent on making him pay for every little kid prank.

The next week my father came home from the office and collected all the cans of Juicy-O in our house. He dumped them into the garbage. My mother felt bad that my father had lost such an important account. But my father told her not to worry. (2.109)

Mr. Hatcher must be stressed out by the fact that he lost a big account, but he doesn't take it out on his family. And he doesn't blame little Fudge.

"My mother's going to kill you, Sheila." I said. Was I glad I wasn't left in charge of my brother.

Sheila cried louder. "But it was an accident. He did it himself… himself…" (4.66-67)

At first, Sheila is eager to have the job of taking care of Fudge, but as soon as things go south, she's afraid she'll be blamed for Fudge's accident. She really isn't ready for this child-care business. Honestly, though, who's ever really ready for Fudge?

"Oh, Mrs. Hatcher. How awful. I'm sorry… I'm really very sorry," Sheila cried. "What will happen to him?"

"He'll be all right, Sheila," my mother said. "I'm sure it was an accident. Nobody's blaming you." (4.88-89)

Peter is absolutely shocked when his mother acts calmly to Sheila's hysterical crying and doesn't even get impatient or upset. Mrs. Hatcher (and Judy Blume) know how easy it is for kids to blame themselves when something bad happens, even if it's not their fault.

"Yes… you see… I was very upset over Fudge's accident and I had to blame somebody. So I picked on you."

"Yes," I said. "You sure did."

"It wasn't your fault though. I know that. It was an accident. It could have happened even if I had been in the playground myself." (4.105-107)

A good mom doesn't have to be perfect, but she knows when she's wrong and can apologize for it.

After a while my mother knocked on my bedroom door and called, "Peter, may I come in?"

I didn't answer.

She opened the door and walked over to my bed. "I'm very sorry," she said.

I still didn't say anything. (7.59-62)

Fudge is the one who actually destroyed Peter's school project, but he blames his mother for not keeping a closer eye on Fudge. Now she's the one who feels guilty. Do you think parents are always to blame for their kids' misbehavior?

"Mom," I said, shaking my head. "how could you?"

"How could I what, Peter?" Mom asked.

"How could you let him do it?"

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

"LET FUDGE EAT DRIBBLE." I screamed. (10.24-28)

This is the worst thing Fudge has ever done, and Peter needs to have his parents see how bad it is. Do you think the Hatchers keep a close enough eye on Fudge? Could they have prevented some of the catastrophes?

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...