Control in Crews's Body and Cheever's Five-Forty-Eight

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Control in Crews's Body and Cheever's Five-Forty-Eight

Harry Crews's Body and John Cheever's "Five-Forty-Eight" offer characters whose lives lack control. Although Crews's Bateman is a perfecting, attractive, and popular body builder, his life does not satisfy him. However, from the outside Bateman appears happy and content. On the other hand, Cheever's Ms. Dent is skinny, shy, emotional, and disheveld. Her description reflects the unsteadiness and the insecurity in her life. Although Bateman's personality contrast with Ms. Dent's, they have a similar need for control. Bateman and Ms. Dent search for control in the form of love objects. Bateman finds Earline Turnipseed an obese, virginal, simple and complacent "redneck." Ms. Dent finds Blake an unpopular, self-centered, abusive, and chauvinistic womanizer. Both character finds control; however, only Bateman does so through his love object.

Bill Bateman and Ms. Dent feel a lack of control and completion evident in their illnesses. Bateman suffers form bulimia: "[he] could not hold to the rigid diet of a champion, never had been able to, but he was a secret and accomplished puker"(105). His rigid diet does not contribute to his bulimia; rather, his intense obsession with control leads to his sickness. Displaying his own neurosis, Bateman uncontrollably fears failure. By punishing his body through weight lifting, bingeing, and purging he artificially feels successful and in control. Although Ms. Dent does not directly define his illness, she too suffers from a neurosis, plus clinical depression. Struggling with her illness, Ms. Dent "had been in the hospital for eight months"(81). While her obsession with Blake, her paranoia, her stalking, her uncontrollable emot...

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...on in Earline's far from perfect body. Perhaps now that his life satisfies, he will not feel so out of control, thus eliminating his need to binge and purge. Blake does in fact help Ms. Dent take control of her life, just not as she intended. Instead of gaining control through his life, she achieves control by tearing his life down. Ms. Dent tells Blake, "Oh, I'm better than you, I'm better than you, and I shouldn't waste my time or spoil my life like this. Put your face in the dirt"(89)! She finally realizes her own self-worth, and by literally lowering Blake beneath her in the dirt she cures herself. She realizes she may not have friends, family, love, and money, but she has dreams ;therefore, a reason to live. Through their love objects, whether a correct match or not, Bateman and Ms. Dent overcome the obstacles that are impeding their happiness.
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