Tobias Wolff

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An Analysis of "This Boy's Life"

"This Boy's Life" is a memoir about a young man's struggles with his own identity. The first section of the chapter titled, "Uncool", is a good illustration of how the young Tobias Wolff feared other peoples perceptions of his true self. The fact that Wolff and his two friends, Taylor and Silver, were raised without true father figures in their lives played a major role in the behavior and character of these three young men. Through othering and double consciousness, the boys came to realize their weaknesses. In an effort to hide their weaknesses, they participated in deviant behavior in order to quench their thirst for power and strength. Tobias Wolff's intentions in writing such a powerful book were to find out how he became the man he is today, and as a healing tool for him to finally let go of the pain he felt as a child.

The absence of a strong father figure in the lives of Jack, Taylor, and Silver had a critical effect on their emotional health. Taylor's father never returned home from Korea, Silver's father left his mother and remarried, and Jack's father lived in Connecticut. A boy learns a lot from just being around his father. He learns what a man is and how they should act, whether it's good or bad. These three boys never had that experience from a father on a regular basis. Everything that they learned at home, they learned from their mother. By no fault of their mothers, the three boys developed a sensitive feminine side. Deep down, almost subconsciously, they were all aware of their sensitivity, which made them feel weak. Their feelings of inferiority showed with their shyness around girls, their attempts at looking cool in the mirror, and in their teasing of one another. A good example of their uneasiness around girls is shown as Wolff described Taylor's sisters, "As girls went they were nothing special, but they were girls, and empowered by that fact to render judgment on us. They could make us...
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