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The Rich Brother By Tobias Wolff

869 words - 3 pages

The Rich Brother by Tobias Wolff
Works Cited Not Included

Tobias Wolff's short story, "The Rich Brother", is a parallel story to the biblical fable of Able and Cain. The biblical story of Able and Cain is that of the first story that puts man against man. Cain and Able are children of Adam and Eve, where Cain is the eldest and Able the younger of the two. In the biblical story Cain and Able end up giving gifts (sacrifices) to appease to their God. This in turn, creates tension between the two because Able's sacrifice of the lamb is much favored by God than is Cain's offering of his crops. Cain becomes outraged because he believes that Able has purposely tried to embarrass him, ultimately, leading Cain to become so enraged that he ends up murdering his only brother in cold blood. Throughout, 'The Rich Brother', Wolff portrays Peter as Cain because he shows a lack of devotion to God, creates a rival ship with his brother, and climatically abandons his only brother Donald.

Throughout the ?The Rich Brother? Pete never criticizes God but never speaks as profoundly about God as his brother does. His brother Donald is represented as almost a religious zealot where as Pete is merely portrayed as a rich business man. In the bible Cain is less favored then his younger brother Abel because of his gift to his almighty God. God favored Abel because Abel gift was that of his first born lamb whereas Cain?s gift was only part of his crop. Abel?s sacrifice of his first born lamb showed his devotion and commitment to his God which lead to Abel becoming more favored in the eyes of his god. Peter as Cain is shown in a less favorable position with God then his brother Donald. In the story when Pete eventually picks up his brother at the service station Donald spilled some of his orange soda and Donald yells to him to wipe it up with his shirt ?Try God? (809). Moreover, by telling Donald to wipe up the pop with the shirt, Wolff symbolically symbolizes Pete dragging God?s name through the mud which further emphasizing Pete?s lack of devotion to God. Pete?s defacing of God?s name and Cain?s effortless gift together simulate their lack of devotion to God.

Wolff portrays Peter and Donald as rivals throughout ?The Rich Brother? as were Cain and Able were in the Bible. Cain and Abel?s rival rivalry came to when god had favored Abel?s gift of the lamb. With favor came God?s overwhelming love which Cain had exclusively desired. Peter, much...

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