Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Fantastic Mr. Fox


I needed a book to listen to at the library and Fantastic Mr. Fox happened to be available. The voice actor is pretty good. They really go after all the voices in the book, the brio of Mr. Fox, the piping voices of his children, and the over the top caricatures of the awful farmers. Sometimes it all seems like too much, but then the book sometimes seems like it's too much itself, but I think maybe that's the point with both the book and the voices.

Because of all this I wasn't sure how much I really liked Fantastic Mr. Fox for awhile. 

But suddenly, maybe rather far along, there was one moment...

I was reading the part of the story when the Fox family has dug away from the homicidal farmers and are now just perfecting their access to the farmers' food. It was here, all at once, that the curious ethical and political considerations of the book struck, oddly late: This book is all about stealing from the rich! I love stealing from the rich stories! In fact this is a book where all the heroes really do is just... steal stuff. That and avoid the nasty people trying to stop them.

The moment this ethical construct struck me it also seemed to strike one of the characters, Mr. Badger. 

Mr. Fox and his family escaped the murderous shovels of the Farmers by barely managing to out dig and out burrow them. Then they went to the brink of starvation while hiding deep underground from certain death, until Mr. Fox came up with a plan to tunnel right up into the Farmers' food storehouses. After the first successful breach that gave them full access to delicious chickens, Mr. Fox and his children ran into Mr. Badger, who was starving and despairing due to the situation with the farmers' murderous vigil. But after the good news about chickens, and after inviting him and his family and all other afflicted burrowing animals to the lavish feast planned by the reinvigorated Foxes, Mr. Badger enlisted into the Foxes' crusade. And it was here that he had a moment of ethical reckoning.

"Aren't we just stealing?" Mr. Badger asked Mr. Fox with concern.

Mr. Fox basically replies "There is no parent whose child is hungry who wouldn't steal food to feed their child."

And though it is not a mushy book, and Mr. Badger and Mr. Fox don't seem to have a deep relationship, instead of discussing the point, or any of its ethical ramifications, Mr. Badger surprisingly just says, with real affection, "I love you Mr. Fox."

And that is when the book won me over.

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