The Rich Brother

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Jake Steinberg
AP Lit

“The Rich Brother”
Personal wealth and a responsible life would seem at first to fall on the positive side of things when judging an individual. This holds true in Tobias Wolff's, “The Rich Brother.” Still, Wolff wants us to delve further and look past the obvious into the relationship of Donald and Pete, two brothers that in many ways are dependent on one another. “The Rich Brother” is a Cain and Able story of sibling rivalry that uses contrasting characters to question the meaning of success. Pete is introduced as a hard working man that has earned a certain level of success. Pete is confident and we sense he has a feeling of entitlement when Wolff includes that “Pete made a lot of money, but not more than he thought he deserved.” Pete clearly has a sense of responsibility in his work and his family. He has a wife, a home, and children, all of which he is responsible for and apparently provides for. With his possessions, this early narration leads the reader to believe and label Pete as the rich brother. Donald is introduced to us in a whole different light. “Donald, the younger brother, was still single.” This first sentence clearly labels Donald as a lesser man than his brother right at the start merely because of his marital status. It is clear that Donald is without more than just a wife or family. He has no material possessions, no money, no career. Of course Donald is fine with this. He is kind and caring, more spiritual and doesn't place wealth and possessions high in importance. The author strengthens his case for Pete immediately by pitting the brothers at the opposite sides of a scale in wealth , success and responsibility. He doesn't stop there also places the brothers at opposite sides of the spectrum in personality with Pete clearly portrayed as strong and confident and Donald weak and aloof. Pete holds the power in this relationship. He supports Donald early on giving him a hundred dollars to hold on...
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