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What first really struck me in “Fried Chicken,” was the way Mrs. Pegram accepts they way she is shunned. “Who could blame [Mrs. Calhoun] for firing the murderer’s mother, for not wanting the murderer’s mother to be the one who knew where she hid her Xanax in the false bottom of her jewlery box, who knew that Johnny Calhoun required clean sheets every single day and wanted his underwear ironed, who knew that their daughter was an alcoholic? Who would want a murderer’s mother to know these things?” (254). Mrs. Pegram is a very submissive woman, and very accepting of the things she must deal with. To me, it would be a ridiculous claim to fire a long term maid on the grounds that she is the mother of a murderer and one wouldn’t want such a person knowing the idiosyncrasies of their home life– this seems so erroneous because it’s not as if Mrs. Pegram doesn’t know these things already, so fired or not, she would still know know about the Xanax and the achohol and the underwear. This disconnect in rational thinking¬† prepares readers for the personalities and dysfunctional relationships in Mrs. Pegram’s family and makes us more aware and sensitive to her situation.

Usually when I come across a character who is so submissive and unflappable, I get irritated with them because they never do anything, or they never attempt to stand up for themselves. However, I found myself feeling defensive for Mrs. Pegram, and sorry for her. Royal Pegram, robbed his wife of many things, and it felt good to see him suffer at the hands of Leonard. At first, I thought the scene with Leonard beating his father, was going to be the explanation of who Leonard had killed, and I was slightly disappointed when it wasn’t. I became very invested in Leonard and his mother at this point, and while I was slightly bothered that Smith never came out and said who Leonard killed and how it happened, I think it was fitting for Mrs. Pegram’s character to glaze over it in that way, “Mrs. Pegram pushes these awful thoughts out of her mind. She never, ever, thinks about it. And today, she’s got places to go! People to see!” (260). I came to really understand why Mrs. Pegram would be so accepting of getting fired from her job at the Calhoun’s. The Calhouns don’t want to think about it, they want to push the idea of murder, away. Mrs. Pegram respects this because she too, believes in pushing away awful thoughts and “never, ever,” thinking about the murder. This painful and yet somehow strangely encouraging story ends with Mrs. Pegram doling out her son’s fried chicken to a mother and son- an act of tenderness in memory of her young Leonard, an act of proving to others and herself her genteel nature as a nice lady. Through the fried chicken, Mrs. Pegram is able to separate herself from the nametag attached to her, “murderer’s mother.”

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