Perspectives through Voices in Our Time by John Edgar Wideman

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John Edgar Wideman’s essay “Our Time” presents us the story of his brother Robby. The essay is unique because Wideman uses the “voices” of his brother Robby, his mother, and himself to convey the different perspectives of each person. The author uses the three different points of view in an attempt to express his emotions, and what he was going through while trying to understand the motives behind Robby’s transgressions. Wideman articulates that choices in life are often difficult to make, and other people will be unable to understand the reasons behind a particular choice. In addition to telling Robby’s story, Wideman includes the problems he faced as a writer in order to tell the story from his brother’s point of view.
Moreover, Wideman ends up having difficulties trying to represents what his brother is “saying” because he ends up writing his own personal opinions and thoughts. Although it was something he was trying to avoid considering it would be a manipulation of the story. Throughout the essay, the reader can observe how Wideman analyzes his past experiences with Robby, and how their relationship has transformed over the years. For instance, the author conveys the bonds he had with his brother in order to express that after all this years they still shared “common history, values, and style developed within the tall stockade of family, and that was enough to make us care about each other” (Wideman 674). In addition, he tells the reader how he wanted Robby to know that he was thinking about “Our shared roots and destiny” (Wideman 674) and how that thinking was getting him closer to Robby.
Furthermore, while reading “Our Time” one can see that Robby and John were completely different. While Robby was the rebel of the fam...

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...t task to tell a story from someone’s perspective rather than my own. Although, considering other’s perspectives can be detrimental in order to understand the choices they make. I sympathize with Wideman because he has a difficult task, which he accomplished outstandingly. I was surprised on how much emphasis he gives to the possibility that he may be misrepresenting his brother’s perspective, and consider this is a smart move in the sense that he is being fair to his brother. Finally, I consider any solutions he has taken to not interfere with Robby’s perspective have failed because representing another person’s point of view rather than your own is next to impossible.

Works Cited

Wideman, John Edgar. “Our Time.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 9th ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 657-694. Print.
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