It Is Difficult For The Reader To Feel Much Affection For The Protagonist In Tobias Wolff's Memoir 'this Boy's Life', Agree Or Disagree. Padua College Mornington Essay

912 words - 4 pages

While Toby from Tobias Wolff's memoir 'This Boy's Life' published in 1989 does make some silly, questionable choices and often lies, the reader stills feels affection for him. His lies are fuelled by his innocent dreams of transformation which he often relies upon in his unstable life. Wolff's writing displays how Rosemary's husband Dwight drains Toby's youthful energy from him and makes much of his childhood miserable. Toby has an incredibly close bond with his mother and they are both dependent on each other. These factors provide the reader with sympathy towards his situation and assists the reader in understanding many of his unruly actions.

Wolff's writing shows us how Toby's youth was wasted away and how he was robbed of his freedom. Wolff's style of writing is very emotive and he makes use of a number of different techniques that make the reader feel affection for Toby. In one instance he uses a foreboding metaphor, before Toby moves in with Dwight, Dwight points out salmon in the water. "They had come all the way from the ocean to spawn here, Dwight said, and then they would die. The change to salt from fresh water had turned their flesh rotten." This represents how like the salmon, parts of Toby will die once he moves in with Dwight and is forced to endure the horror of life with Dwight. The strong writing and sense of foreboding appeals to the reader and makes them understand and feel sympathy for Toby's situation. Wolff also uses a sad metaphor later in the novel that makes the reader feel extremely sorry for Toby. Dwight forced Toby to shuck chestnuts every day for weeks. Almost two years after he shucked them, Dwight plans to retrieve them but it is discovered that the chestnuts are covered in mild in a box next to a beaver that Dwight had killed. For all of Toby's hard work, nothing has been gained, like the chestnuts, Toby's youth and every have wasted away all because Dwight wanted to make a point showing off his power over Toby. Dwight also robbed the beaver of it's life out of cold blood in the same way that he robs Toby of his freedom and happiness for the sole purpose wielding his authority. This metaphor illustrates Jack's horrible situation and makes the reader feel sympathy towards his life, a life that no child should have to endure.

Toby had a strong belief that he could change and become a better person which fuelled many of his actions. Toby was going to through a rather unstable childhood and because of this, one of the things he craved most was stability. This manifested itself in his imagination where...

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