?The Big H Tells All? Essay, Research Paper
The short story ?The Big H Tells All? is an account of how a man named Edgar rises to small town fame by becoming the host of a local talk show. This show is the most popular thing on television to the townsfolk, and the demanding viewing audience can be rather ruthless at times. The other characters in the story consist of the local talk show guests: a nine-year-old girl named Karla with a puppet act, a fire fighter/humorist named Danny, and the Ritters, a couple known around town for their weekend spent at a sex clinic. Other characters are only mentioned and are not all that important to the plot, except for the references to the past host of the show, Mrs. Donna Reeves. Though only referred to, she plays a larger part than the others, although that fact is not apparent until the last paragraph. Also on the show are community events, public service announcements, local talent, and the like. The setting is placed in the television studio itself, and all of the action takes place here as well.
The tale is told from Edgar?s point of view: how he became the host, how he feels about the guests, and how he plans to ensure the keeping of his job. The symbolism and imagery that Edgar perceives around him molds him into the kind of host he feels that he needs to be, and effects how he plans to keep his coveted position.
The opening paragraph of ?The Big H Tells All? immediately reveals the slow-paced monotony of the small-town atmosphere. Every weekday at four o?clock, Edgar hosts a television show as the rest of the town ?winds down.? Even though it is only four, signs reading ?Sorry, we?re closed? can be seen in the shops on mainstreet, and the local cement factory parking lot is empty. Due to these facts, Edgar?s show is quite popular, as the townspeople have recently arrived home and are winding down from a days work by watching television. The show is in fact so important to the populace that they claim ?small tragedies occur? if the show is missed. While these events consist of nothing more than bumping into door frames, spilling soft drinks, and other small things, they are enough to make the townsfolk take notice, and therefore the show rarely gets missed. This is verified by the last sentence of the first paragraph, ?Most of them know better now.? All of these elements are evidence of the mundane repetition of life in the town. The people, however, seem to like it this way.
The character development of Edgar is practically non-existent. The reader finds that he rose to his position in the town through a guest appearance on the show, and through ?fates careful planning.? He gained his popularity by beginning with the truth: telling of how his spiritual growth had been stunted by big city life, and how he had just gotten through a bad marriage. He played on the peoples? sympathy and continued to get it through lies and subterfuge. Such tales were told as his days were numbered due to some Asian virus, and that he was ?grounded by day to day blues.? He then admits his guilt by telling the reader that ?I wanted everything that had ever been denied me.? These tactics made him a big hit, as he sensed that the townsfolk ?would appreciate a doom more startling than their own.? Such lies indicate that Edgar obviously does not feel that he is competent enough to keep his position as host of the show. He states that he is ?a sucker for attention,? and this fact keeps him interested in the show, even though it does not pay that well. Despite craving attention, he also says that there is ?a tension? as well. The moment someone beats him out in the fame department, he is finished. This is the reason he feels he must continue to lie to keep the audience interested.
The town and its T.V. talk show-watching public does not make Edgar?s situation any better. The audience does not care for him, they only care for what entertainment he can provide. The previous host, a woman named Mrs. Donna Sleeves, was the ?undisputed host for thirty-eight weeks.? She gained her popularity by winning honorable mention in a state-wide chicken crisp-off. She was extremely popular with the public, receiving numerous requests for recipes and numerous marriage proposals from men all over the viewing area, as she was a divorcee. However, when the show began to take a toll on her voice, the complaining letters soon outnumbered requests for recipes and marriage. The audience had grown tired of the pained look on her face, and her illustrious career was terminated.
The rest of the characters are interesting only to the make-believe people in the make-believe town. These other characters, such as Karla, a nine-year-old girl with a puppet act, exist only to fill the time needed between the ?segments? of the show pertaining to Edgar. If the reader was to skip the sections of the story containing these characters? ?time slots,? the story of Edgar, how he came to be, how he is at present, and how he intends to stay would remain intact. However, the fact that Karla?s normal puppet ?slept too close to a frying pan and kind of melted? seems to forecast what may happen to Edgar if he is not careful. Karla?s normal puppet, named Punky, was easily replaced by a new one named Krinkles the Clown.
Other characters, such as Danny Klang, a local firefighter, offer little to the story. However, the reader is offered a small amount of insight when Danny criticizes the show as being a dead episode. Edgar turns from the viewing audience to address the reading audience, telling how he welcomes the criticism as the viewers will no doubt side with him. This is due to the fact that Danny is the man they love to hate. This seems to contradict the pressures Edgar must feel as the host: he cannot afford a love-hate relationship with the audience, for he must always be the hero of the show in the eyes of the audience, as anything else would signal the end of his career.
Edgar then moves from Danny to Betty and Mal Ritter, a couple he can depend on to waste any available time left on the show. Mal immediately begins to play his saxophone (a fine instrument indeed), lowering the volume of his playing so that Edgar may make a few public service announcements. Betty then takes the microphone from him and announces that time is up, tells the audience what to expect next week, and the show ends. As the ending credits roll, Edgar hands his guests the sponsor?s gift pack which consists of a dust ruffle and a coupon for 10% off at the next Sheetworld Moonlight Madness Sale. Danny the firefighter acts both ?surprised and pleased although he has often complained that the wage isn?t worth his troubles.? This fact is contradictory to what Edgar says about the job being small change, he does it for the attention. Once again, the reader is confronted with little Karla, who is bouncing Krinkle?s rubber-ball head on the floor. Obviously, Krinkles the Clown is out of business and the audience can expect yet another replacement.
The last paragraph of the story consists of Edgar telling the reader that he has the next day off and is planning a small vacation consisting of a drive out into the countryside. His day off is due to the viewing audiences? demand of a rerun of Mrs. Sleeves cooking a dish known as Chinese Noodle Love Dreams. The reason for the rerun is that the buzzing of her electric beaters in the microphone overpowered her telling of the recipe. Edgar has heard a rumor that Mrs. Sleeves is expected to win a bake-off of some sort, and that could in effect jeopardize his job. In order for Edgar to remain on top in the popularity department, he must rebuild his fame. In order to do this, he plans on losing some weight, which is something that is admired by most people. He also plans on coming up with more lies, such as claims that his ex-wife ?sends abusive letters from parts unknown.? If worse comes to worse, he will claim that Mrs. Sleeves got her prize-winning recipe ?from an old cereal box.? He closes by saying that ?Once again they will realize that I belong here,? whether he is welcome anymore or not
The story ?The Big H Tells All? clearly paints the picture of how one may get ahead in the world by sticking to the simple truth. However, once that goal has been firmly established, the realization that the truth may not be enough begins to set in. This leads to the lies and corruption that are so prevalent in the world today. It would seem that no one wants to do anything through truth and hard work in todays world, including Edgar.