Professor Van Aulen
Critical Reading and Writing 102-29
13 October 2012
Our Time Essay 2
Throughout John Wideman’s work, Our Time, Wideman describes the struggles he has writing his brother, Robby’s story. Based on their drastically different personalities, Wideman as difficulty understanding Robby’s experiences enough to accurately depict them in his writing. He decides to meet with Robby in prison to discuss his past and why he chose to engage in a life of crime. Reflecting on his visit with Robby, he explains how he is afraid of telling Robby’s story because of his disconnect from him. He is afraid his own bias would take over his writing and that he would lose Robby’s voice and, thus, his message. Wideman raises these concerns so the reader can fully understand the difficulty of accurately writing someone else’s story.
For example, on page 672, in the second paragraph, Wideman describes one of the difficulties he faces trying to get into Robby’s head. He was not sure if he could learn his brother’s perspective without writing with his own bias. Wideman had to change his approach to writing the story because he knew he could not answer his questions about Robby on his own. Only Robby could explain his story so that Wideman could determine their differences. The habit he describes in the paragraph that he needs to break is his tendency to write Robby off, rather than truly listen to his side and understand it. After learning about what Robby has done to himself and the family because of his addiction, it is hard for Wideman to sympathize with Robby. But eventually, he begins to look at himself and realizes that he is not so different. He recalls when he kept the insurance money from the TV Robby stole, rather than giving it to Mort, who had surprised them with a new one. Wideman acknowledges that he has “[taken] good fortune for granted” (689) and that he, too, is a thief somewhat comparable to Robby. After coming to this conclusion,...