The Irony of Bullet in the Brain

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Terrance McKinney
April 06, 2011
The Irony of “Bullet in the Brain”
Throughout the story of “Bullet in the Brain”, Tobias Wolff depicts a book critic “Anders”, as a pompous, intellectual whose intellect serves as his cause of death. The irony in “Bullet in the Brain” is that the self proclaimed genius too smart (or too dumb) to stay quiet which costs him his life. Throughout the story Anders seems to enjoy criticizing and disliking others, he doesn’t know when he should shut up, and finally when he’s even in the process of dying the one thing that he seems to remember is him still criticizing others. In the start of the story Anders is in a bank towards the end of closing. As he is irritated enough that the line is long he seems to even be irritated with the people for no simple reason. Even when the two have a common enemy in the teller who seems to close down her window to socialize with a colleague, he seems to get even more irritated with the woman he’s in line with than the bank teller. “Anders had conceived his own towering hatred of the teller, but he immediately turned it on the presumptuous crybaby in front of him.” There is something about him where he just doesn’t seem to be in accord with other people. The woman who was irrated simply wanted to converse with Anders but as the conversation progresses, he calls it tragic and makes it an even bigger deal than what it actually is.
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