report diary study reminiscence personal retrospective history THIS BOYS LIFE
CHARACTERS Terry Silver Silver was emaciated. His eyes bulged, his Adams apple protruded, his arms poked out of his sleeves life pencils with gloves stuck on the ends. Terry Taylor Taylor had the liquid eyes and long lashes and broad blank face of a cow. Dwight Dwight was a short man with curly brown hair and sad, restless brown eyes. He smelled of gasoline. His legs were small for his thick-chested body, but what they lacked in length they made up for in spring; he had an abrupt, surprising way of springing to his feet. He dressed like no one Id ever met before - two-toned shoes, hand-painted tie, monogrammed blazer with a monogrammed handkerchief in the breast pocket. MORE CHARACTERS
Pearl The girl was pinch-faced and scrawny, and on the back of her head she had a bald spot the size of a silver dollar...In fact she wasnt so bad, especially since my mother had taken her to a doctor to have her bald spot fixed. She had a gaunt, sinewy beauty, but I didnt see it. Norma Norma was seventeen, ripe and lovely. Her lips were full and red, always a little swollen-looking as if shed just woken up, and she moved sleepily too, languidly, stretching often. When she stretched, her blouse went taut and parted slightly between the buttons, showing milky slices of belly. She had the whitest skin. Thick red hair that she pushed sleepily back from her forehead. Green eyes flecked with brown. She used lavender water, and
EVEN MORE CHARACTERS Kenneth He had a fussy, aggrieved voice and this disappointed lips. He wore a golf cap and perforated leather gloves that snapped across the wrist. He removed one of his gloves as he complained, tugging delicately at each finger, then going on to the next until the glove came free. Mr Howard Mr Howard still had the boy in him. He bounced a little as he walked with a certain expectancy, as if he were ready to be interested in what he saw, and when he was interested he allowed himself to show it. He wore a suit and tie...Mr Howard wore his suit and tie as if he didnt know he had them on. Chuck
THEMES Being an outsider Dreams Nature Identity There are many more interpretations of themes Fatherhood Lies/truth Rites of passage QUOTES- FORTUNE We were going to change our luck p3 I was caught up in my mothers freedom, her delight in her freedom, her dream of transformation p4
I was subject to fits of feeling myself unworthy...that everybody but my mother saw through me p9 I thought Roy was what a man should be p12 A weapon was the first condition of self-sufficiency p19 All my images of myself as I wished to be were images of myself armed p22 The giddiness of flight p25 QUOTES- UNCOOL our passion for this pistol was profound and about the only passion we admitted to p34 One look was enough to see that he was everything we were not p38 I was practiced at this and happy doing it, not because she was unhappy but because she needed me, and to be needed made me feel capable p46 my self-mastery seemed like an act p46
Dwight tried to hard p52 It wasnt really a house, but half of a barracks where German prisoners of was had been quartered p55 He thinks hes some kind of big hunter p61 I couldnt bear for her to think that I was the kind of person who took advantage of other peoples kindness, or wrote filth on bathroom walls. An at that moment I wasnt p64 she saw in this plan a duty which she would be selfish not to acknowledge p69 QUOTES- A WHOLE NEW DEAL He tried to make this appear effortless but I could see he was surprised and strained by the beavers weight p73 I was fiercely conventional p74 (A key passage) Youre in for a whole another ball game p76
QUOTES- CITIZENSHIP IN THE HOME Dwight made a study of me p79 I slipped into daydreams p80 Arthur: I liked his acid wit and the wild stories he told and his apparent indifference to what other people thought of him. But I withheld my friendship, because I was afraid of what it would cost me p89 He had me tell the story again and again p94 those thoughts made me feel cheated and confined p101 I began to see myself from the stands and became sentimentally aroused by the consciousness of my own nobility and grit in seeing this game throughp107 I was a liar...I couldnt help but try to introduce new versions of myself as my interests changed, and as other versions failed to persuade p110 these accusations did not hurt me, because I did not see myself that way p111
I was my mothers son. I could not be anyone elses p118 But she may also have dreamed of flight and freedom - unencumbered, solitary freedom, freedom even from me. Like anyone else, she must have wanted different things at th same time. The human heart is a dark forest p119 Someday, I thought, I would just keep going p145 QUOTES- CITIZENSHIP IN THE SCHOOL I wanted distinction, and the respectable forms of it seemed to be eluding me p155 I thought we were meeting rightly, true self to true self, free of the accidents of age p158 I only ever wanted what I couldnt have p159 I felt she knew all of me, all my foolishness and trouble p166 Alone, she might have bolted anyway. With me to take care of she thought she
couldnt p174 To seek status seemed the most natural thing in the world to me p175 Being realistic made me feel bitter. It was a new feeling, and one I didnt like, But I saw no way out p177 That was what I thought I was writing - the truth. It was the truth known only to me, but I believed in it more than I believed in the facts arrayed against it. p180 But I knew he was no citizen and he knew I was no outlaw p 184 Now I wanted above all, as the only redemption left to me, to be a good sport p193 Knowing that everything comes to an end is a gift of experience p194 QUOTES- THE AMEN CORNER Everyone liked Chuck. Sober, he was friendly and calm and open handed p201 I didnt need to see the tears in Mr Welchs eyes to know that I had
brought shame on myself p206 I had no way of explaining my feelings to him, or even to myself. I believed that there was no difference between explanations and excuses, and that excuses were unmanly. So were feelings, especially complicated feelings. I didnt admit to them. I hardly knew I had them p207 in my heart I was glad he was in trouble p214 the good life he had in mind for himself was just as conventional as the one I had in mind for myself, though without its epic pretensions p215 When it asked for my name as I wished it to appear in the school catalogue, I wrote, Tobias Jonathan von Ansell-Wolff III p218 QUOTES- AMEN my father had indeed suffered some kind of
breakdown p239 conscious of the falseness of my position. I had known someone was in trouble and had done nothing p240 It seemed to me when I got there that this was where I had been going all along, and where I might redeem myself p241 The night was hazy. There was no moon. Farmhouse windows burned with a soft buttery light p242 HISTORICAL CONTEXT The sense of adventure and optimism embedded in the American psyche is evident in Rosemary as she sets out from Florida in 1955, looking for a new life. The assassination of JFK and Americas involvement in
the Vietnam War were defining moments of America in the 1960s. Wolff joined the army and served from 1964-68 with the US Army Special Forces in Vietnam. In his memoir, Wolff describes his relief at finding himself back in the clear life of uniforms and ranks and weapons and hoping for a war. P241. SYMBOLS Cars- represent power, masculinity, escape Guns- represent power, masculinity, democratic rights, cultural heritage. Clothing- represents identity, survival, belonging. Alcohol- represents escapism and masculinity. Cigarettes- represent masculinity, rebellion, coolness.
Stories- represent escapism, survival, creativity, imagination, power, dishonesty. White paint- represents covering up, damaging/destroying. Can you think of any other symbols and what they represent? STRUCTURE First person narrative voice: use of first person pronoun (I, me, my) invites readers to connect directly with the writer through experiences of thoughts familiar to many readers. Subjective narrative perspective: descriptions of people and events are filtered through Wolffs point of view. What Jack notices allows readers insight into his character and state of mind.
ESSAY QUESTIONS In This Boys Life, although Jack tries to assume many different identities, the truth always surfaces. Discuss. How does Wolff illustrate the loneliness that his adolescent self experienced during the time frame of This Boys Life? We both believed that the real lie was told by our present unworthy circumstances. How does Wolff demonstrate that each of the characters believe themselves separate from their circumstances?
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