Our Time Essay

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Ashley Senger
English 110

Our Time Paper 2nd Draft

January 31, 2011

John Wideman’s essay “Our Time” is an intriguing, emotional piece about his brother and the hardships faced while living in a rough neighborhood. Wideman writes this story through the perspective of three people; Wideman’s brother Robby, his mother, and himself as a writer and a person. Wideman tells his story by using creative writing styles to help emphasize the point he is trying to get across in telling his brother Robby’s story. In this essay, the reader will learn not only about Robby and how his life takes a toll for the worse, but also about Wideman personally, and his struggles to create this piece.

Wideman starts out this story by telling the readers about the death of Robby’s friend, Garth. This takes place when Wideman and Robby are older. Wideman discusses how Garth was said to be wrongfully misdiagnosed by the “white” doctors who didn’t care about his well being. Robby and his friends believe that Garth was looked over because he didn’t appear to need immediate care. “Have to be spitting blood to get attention.” (Wideman pg.689). The reality of this may have been true, but it was also Garth’s participation with drugs that helped lead him to sickness inevitably. Garth’s death is described as a turning point for Robby to take the very hard and beaten track that ultimately leads to his imprisonment. “They had killed Garth, and his dying had killed a part of her son” (pg.690).Wideman also describes how Robby’s behavior over Garth’s death took a large toll on their mother. “I’m the one made her tired, John. And that’s my greatest sorrow.” (pg. 706).

The next event Wideman introduces is a rewind back to when Wideman and Robby were children growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood. Wideman, the oldest, excelled in academics and believed in taking the right path to exceed in life. Robby on the other hand believed that he did not fit in. He wanted to rebel. Robby wanted to make a name for himself in his family and not fall by the way side. Robby’s goal to accomplish this was to be bad. Robby dreamed of fame and fortune, but wanted to receive it will little effort. Robby had high expectations placed upon him by his older sibling’s successes. Robby did not want this and rebelled to try and be different from his siblings. This lead to drugs and immoral behavior.

“Seemed like they just didn’t want me to have no fun. That’s when I decided I’d go on about my own business. Do it my way. Cause I wasn’t getting no slack at home. They still expected me to be like my sister and brothers. They didn’t know I thought youns was squares. Yeah. I knew I was hipper and groovier than youns ever thought of being. Streetwise, into something. Had my own territory and I was bad. I was a rebel. Wasn’t following in nobody’s footsteps but my own. And I was a hip cookie, you better believe it. Wasn’t a hipper thing out there than your brother, Rob. I couldn’t wait for them to turn me loose in Homewood.” (pg. 703).

These words spoken by Robby is evidence of him reaching out at a young age. Robby found it hard to meet the expectations of school and hard work. He wanted to stand out in his own way and he did just that.

Wideman also writes about Robby’s birth. This event is one that ultimately doomed Robby from the beginning. Robby’s birth came with death in the family. Not only was Robby’s birthday days after Christmas, but every year around Robby’s birthday for years followed death. This led to the demise of celebration for Robby’s birth, but yet the onset of apprehension to tragedy. Growing up with such a stigma attached to Robby destined him for failure. This part of the story serves as a foreshadow to why Robby wanted so badly to be noticed. Regretfully he pursued a path that led him to imprisonment.

We learn in the middle of the story that Wideman's brother, Robby, is in prison for committing the crimes of drugs, stealing, and...
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