A Comparison of Values in The Rich Brother by Tobias Wolff

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In Tobias Wolff’s 1985 short story “The Rich Brother,” we are introduced to two brothers. According to Wolf, you cannot even tell that they are brothers because of their physical differences, but as the story goes into more detail we can tell that they are different in every aspect. One of the major differences is that one is wealthy and the other is always in need of financial assistance. The older brother, Pete, is a successful real estate agent while his younger brother, Donald, works as a painter whenever he can. The two brothers are very different in their belief about what is valuable. Pete is a man that has worked hard and values what he has acquired. His brother Donald, on the other hand, values sharing whatever he has. Even if giving everything he has leaves him with nothing. Pete’s values gather around not believing in any kind of God or savior. He is not a religious man in that sense. He values that his money has given him; a sense of decency. His wealth gives him a comfortable feeling. He doesn’t see the necessity to believe in religion as his brother has. His destiny is to have a nice family and to be as his parents were. Their parents “managed to be decent people without making fools of themselves, and Pete had the same ambition.” (Tobias Wolf 391) Pete’s wealth fills his needs. His possessions are valuable him, he buys a new car just because he liked and wanted it. His values don’t really go much beyond what he owns. He has a nice home where he can see a ...

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