Study Guide

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Injustice

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"And I'm not going to take care of him either," my mother added.

"Of course you're not," I told her. "He's my turtle. And I'm the one who's going to take care of him." (1.10-11)

Instead of being happy for Peter when he wins the turtle at Jimmy Fargo's party, Mrs. Hatcher immediately gets stressed out. It's not Peter's fault that she's got so much going on. He's kind of offended that she acts like he won't be a good pet owner. On the other hand, is it fair of Peter to bring home a pet without asking his parents?

But sure enough, when I checked, I saw two stems with nothing on them.

"Don't look at me, Mom," I said. What would I do with two measly flowers?" (2.16-17)

Why does Mrs. Hatcher always ask Peter when things go wrong? It's not like he's the troublemaker in the household. She should totally interrogate Fudge before even considering Peter. Foreshadowing alert: Notice how Fudge eating the flowers is a hint of something much worse that will happen later in the book.

I thought Mr. Yarby had a lot of nerve to hint that we had no manners. Didn't I pretend to like their dumb old picture dictionary? If that isn't good manners, then I don't know what is. (2.88)

Mr. Yarby is saying that the Hatcher kids have no manners, but he's the one acting like a creep. Peter can't help but judge him for his hypocrisy.

But the next morning I put my foot down. "No. I don't want to stand on my head in the kitchen. Or anywhere else." I added, "And if I don't hurry I'll be late for school."
"Don't you care if your brother starves?" (3.10-11)

It's not Peter's job to find ways to entertain his brother in order to coax him into eating. He finds it ridiculous that his mother is trying to make him feel guilty for not wanting to stand on his head during every single mealtime.

The next day my mother dragged Fudge to Dr. Cone's office. He told her to leave him alone. That Fudge would eat when he got hungry.

I reminded my mother that I'd told her the same thing—and for free. But I guess my mother didn't believe either one of us because she took Fudge to see three more doctors. (3.29-30)

Here's another instance where Peter feels that his mother just doesn't listen to him.

My mother followed me. "Peter Warren Hatcher." she said. "I'm sorry that I can't trust you for just ten minutes."

"Me?" I asked. "Trust me? What's this got to do with me?"

My mother raised her voice. "I left your brother with you for ten minutes and just look at what happened. I'm disgusted with you." (4.94-96)

Peter wasn't even in charge of Fudge at the playground, and now his mom is blaming him for the whole accident? How fair is that?

"Mr. Berman can bring them out and you can try them on and then Fudge will think that's what you're getting. But when we leave we'll take the loafers."

"That's mean," I said. "You're taking advantage of him."

"Since when do you worry about that?" my mother asked. (6.103-105)

It seems wrong that Mrs. Hatcher would try to trick gullible little Fudge, but Peter has to admit that it's a pretty good idea. Otherwise, they'll be at this shoe store for hours. Is that unfair or just practical?

I could hardly speak. "Look," I said, feeling a lump in my throat. "Just look at what he did to my poster." I felt tears come to my eyes but I didn't care. "How could you let him?" I asked my mother. "How? Don't you care about me?" (7.57)

Peter really lays it out here for his mom. This is the big injustice in his life, at least from his point of view. Nobody thinks about how Fudge is ruining his life. But is it fair for Peter to blame his mom for Fudge's misbehavior? We'll give him a pass; he's really distraught about the poster.

My father picked up Fudge and held him on his lap. "Would you like to ride the Toddle-Bike, Fudge? It's just like the one you have at home."

"Why are you asking him?" I said. "What does he know about making commercials?" (8.66-67)

Peter thinks that he'd be way more qualified to star in a commercial, but of course Fudge is the one who gets picked. Because that's what always happens. Actually, Peter's way too old to be in a Toddle-Bike commercial, but it's just another little injustice for the long-suffering big brother.

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