This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff Essay

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff Essay

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The book “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff is a memoir written about the author’s childhood memories and experiences. The author shows many different characters within the book. Many of them are just minor character that does not affect the author much in his life choices and thoughts throughout his growth. But there are some that acts as the protagonist and some the antagonist. One of them is Dwight, the protagonist’s or Jack’s stepfather. This character seems to be one of the characters that inhibit Jack’s choices and decisions. This character plays a huge role in Jack’s life as it leaves a huge scar in his memory. The author here spends the majority of time in this character in the memoir to show the readers the relationship between Jack and Dwight.
There are several “masks” that Dwight wears to hide his true intention towards Jack and Rosemary. One of the most obvious times is when during the approval seeking moment where Dwight threatened and instilled fear in Jack by driving dangerously and swerving his car intentionally. Dwight here wants to show Jack that he is in complete control of Jack and Rosemary’s life. To forewarn Jack about his future decisions and implication, Dwight intentionally puts on a mask of “malice.” This proves to be advantageous for Dwight as Jack finally succumbs toward Dwight’s threats and corners Jack to approve his mother’s marriage to Dwight.
Later on, Dwight and Jack started painting their house where white paint is used as a primary paint supposedly to symbolize purity and a new start towards Jack’s new life. But this also had an alternate mask covering the false positive pretense. It shows to the reader that Dwight may be covering the true rotten, ill and malice with white paint. Even with w...


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...s violence and his bad attitudes as a safety precaution on Dwight’s future behaviors.
In the end, readers will get a sense of disapproval on Dwight due to many presentations of “evil” and “malice” towards Jack. This may be the deceitful nature of Dwight towards both Jack and Rosemary, or the many tortures that Jack encounters while living with Dwight. In the end, there is a conclusion that points toward a relationship that is based on hatred and a kind of necessity need for both characters to one another as Dwight needs Jack for Rosemary’s love and Jack needs Dwight for Rosemary’s security in life. It is not a relationship desired by Jack as he finally says “We hated each other. We hated each other so much that other feelings didn’t get enough light. It disfigured me” (Wolff 232), and “I left Chinook without a thought for the years I’d lived there.” (Wolff 234),

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