Word Count: 943
Suburbia rarely accurately reflects the lifestyles its inhabitants lead. Instead it tries to project perfection and utopia, which is uncommon. Michael Cunningham’s short story “White Angel” is a tragic tale about two brothers that, despite their age gap, have an extraordinary relationship. Sixteen-year-old, Carlton is an eccentric free spirit and, although Bobby is only nine, his admiration for his older brother leads him into situations far beyond his years. The boys participate in defiant acts as an escape from the mediocrity of their suburban life. Bobby’s narration allows the reader to determine his status as a round character due to the trials he endures and maturity he gains towards the end of the story. Bobby’s character is credulous, rebellious, and aged beyond his years, all of which play a role in his use of escapism to avoid the harsh realities he encounters in his youth.
Throughout the story Bobby relies on Carlton for recognition. Regardless of the fact that Carlton is only seven years older than Bobby, he trusts everything Carlton says or does. Windowpane, an acid promising “clarity of vision,” is the drug the brothers took to flee reality. After dropping acid at the breakfast table the boys await the effects in the cemetery. Uncertain of what to expect, Bobby’s fears begin to surface. All Carlton has to say is “fear is what hurts you not drugs.” At this statement, Bobby says, “I lean into Carlton’s certainty as if it gave off heat” (231). Once Carlton assures him that acid is safe Bobby is convinced with no further questions. Carlton convinces Booby that Woodstock, New York is their future utopia; throughout the story they fantasize about the day they lounge in Woodstock on acid. Bobby is somewhat skeptical about the state of Woodstock after the infamous concert. Carlton tells him, “It’s a new nation. Have faith” (231). From then on when Bobby...