John Edgar Wideman’s “Our Time” is an indirect narration of his brother, Robby Wideman’s life, and a parallel journey of Wideman through those times. The story is in fractions; presented in the direct point of view by Wideman, his mother and Robby: while at the same time Wideman representing all of them from his point of view. A person is more like a mid-point of a triangle, where environment, family and personality strike at him perpendicularly, while each of them is parallel to a person’s action. Robby was the youngest of his family, the reason for him being the pampered and the unruly child. The family failed to teach Robby the difference between the black people and the white people. During the time, black people were void of any rights. Robby was more like a spring, he was compressed during his youth period and when he was let go, it bounced off over the boundaries.
Wideman, in the very beginning introduces us into a tense situation, while engulfed by his own emotional dilemma. Robby shared his pain and regrets of life for being in jail and the unethical things he had done, while Wideman feels deeply burdened by neglecting Robby and keeping things to himself. Wideman randomly uses sharp turns to change the context of his topics or the voice of the person speaking. His writing causes disruption in the flow of the story. The essay almost has a hint of a rough draft, an excerpt taken from a personal diary. Without introductions of the characters, the reader has to imagine a background for all the events.
Wideman’s life is a big puzzle and his brother Robby, his mother, Garth are the unsolved pieces. He is trying to fix things, things that he had just let slid under him. Wideman introduces Garth’s death, the beginning of despair in Robby’s life. Robby considered Garth as one of his own, someone who was always fail-safe for him. Garth was more like a bolt to Robby, one who would tighten up their group.
Garth’s death is very important in the story. It introduces us to Wideman’s mother who is important to him and Robby. We are made aware that she was compassionate and understanding, but as the time progressed she did not care much about the biased society nor she was concerned about the same. According to Wideman’s mother, Garth was repeatedly ‘sent back’ from the doctor’s and deprived of proper medical attention. It was very true, the social injustice ruled against the black people and their rights. Wideman provides his viewpoint, “Mom expects the worst now. She’s peeped their hole card. She understands they have a master plan that leaves little to accident, that most of the ugliest things happening to black people are not accidental but the predictable results of the working of the plan. What she learned about authority, about law and order didn’t make sense at first” (668). Over here, ‘their’ represents the biased government system, the white people, the people inclined towards the wealthy. The people who are arguably correct, ignoring the...