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The Fifth Chile
The Fifth Child
The word "monster" has many definitions. Some define it as a creature having a frightening or strange appearance. It is also defined as one that inspires horror or disgust. Ben certainly fits into all of these categories. He was different right from pregnancy. He looks extremely frightening, almost like a Neanderthal. Ben is an outcast even in an institution for "natureís mistakes."
From the moment Harriet became pregnant it was apparent to her that something was obviously wrong. She loved having children and had planned on a total of eight or perhaps even ten. However, something was different this time. Early in the pregnancy, she began feeling ill. She had been keeping herself very busy in order not to feel the "demands" from the new being. It was unlike anything she had known before. At five months the pain was so intense that Harriet began taking tranquilizers. Even during her pregnancy, Harriet began referring to Ben as the "monster." During a conversation with Dr. Brett after he refused to induce the baby, she is quoted as saying, "Itís because you donít want to. Itís not you who is carrying thisó" (She cut off monster afraid of antagonizing him.) (p. 47) At eight months she went into labor. Although she had never gone to the hospital before for her other deliveries, this time she insisted. This shocked everyone, especially her husband David.
Ben was not your typical baby. "A real little wrestler," said Dr. Brett. "He came out fighting the whole world." (p. 48) Ben was eleven pounds at birth. None of the other children were more than seven. He was heavy-shouldered and hunched over. His forehead sloped from his eyebrows to his crown. Even his hair pattern was erratic. His hands were thick and heavy and contained pads of muscle. His piercing eyes were greeny-yellow in nature and focused on Harriet from the moment he was born. "Heís like a troll, or a goblin or something." said Harriet. (p. 49) Ben actually resembled a Neanderthal!
Although Harriet was apprehensive, David, as well as the entire family, decided it was best if they put Ben into an institution. A small black van came one morning to take Ben away. This institution was not a place that prepared children to become part of society. It was a horrific place that kept all their patients completely drugged and starved them until they eventually died. There were all types of "mistakes" here. Numerous cots engrossed the hallways containing children whose appearances were hideous at best. One child lacked the back of his skull, exposing his brain. Another was literally split in two. Amongst these terrible tragedies, Ben still managed to stick out. He was so incredibly strong that he warranted his own room, more sedatives than any other child had ever received, and had to remain in a strait jacket 24 hours a day. "Heís so strongóIíve never seen anything like it." Said the girl at the institution. (p. 83)
As you can see, Ben is no ordinary child. From the moment he was conceived, Harriet just knew something was wrong. His physical appearance as well as his actions easily place him in the category of monster.
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