Study Guide

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Plot Analysis

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Plot Analysis


Yup, It's the Pits

How is Virginia's life awful? Let us count the ways:

  • She likes a boy, but she can't act like it in public for fear of embarrassing him with her hideous, fat body.
  • Her parents are ashamed of her.
  • Her best friend moved across the country.
  • Her social life consists of emailing said friend, Shannon, and talking about—you guessed it—how much life sucks.

In other words, it's all about survival for Virginia. At school, she has to survive the popular girls, known as the Bri-girls because their names all being with B-R-I, and at home, she's the only one of three kids still loving with their parents, because the other two are older and have moved off to be awesome elsewhere. It would seem that Virginia's life is always going to be dull and boring, at least until she, too, can get away.

Rising Action

Just Go Ahead and Send Me to Fat Camp

Virginia misses her older brother Byron, who's now a student at Columbia, so she goes to his dorm to surprise him with Rice Krispie treats. Byron is less than thrilled to see her, though, since he's busy making plans for the Virgins and Sluts party that night. Virginia wants to be invited, but no such luck—she's just the uncool (read: fat) little sister.

Speaking of fat, her mom takes her to a doctor to discuss her weight, and an unsuccessful diet commences. Froggy, the boy she likes, is at her house the day her mom announces the appointment—which is, of course, totally mortifying. It seems there's no place for Virginia in the world, except maybe fat camp.


So I Guess the Yankees Game Is Off

Papa Shreves has tickets for the Yankees playoff game, and Virginia loves her some Yankees, but since her pops can't make it, he suggests she invite Byron. Virginia leaves a message for Byron but doesn't hear back for several days, though she doesn't know why until the night the phone rings. It's Columbia calling to say that Byron raped his date, Annie Mills, the night of the Virgins and Sluts party, and he's being suspended. Byron is moving home pronto, and Virginia is moving toward a breakdown.

Falling Action

Body (and Personality) Modification

That's it; Virginia's had it. She buys a plane ticket without her parents' knowledge and goes to visit Shannon in Seattle. While there, she undergoes the first—well, second, if you count buying the plane ticket—radical change in her life. She gets an eyebrow ring, buys a polyester shirt, admits aloud what Byron did, and embarks on the life of a true, butt-kicking rebel.


The Girl-Who-Doesn't-Care-That-She's-Fat Code of Conduct

Having served out his suspension at home, Byron moves back to Columbia. Virginia and her dad learn to communicate better, and even her mom admits she's proud of her. She makes friends with a girl at school named Alyssa, a rabid knitter, and together they start a webzine called Earthquack. But the best part of her new personality? Her crush, Froggy Welsh, has noticed. He joins Earthquack as the graphic designer, but better than that, he actually asks Virginia for a kiss in public. She's happy to give him one, and they kiss in the school hallway for all to see.

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