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This Essay Concentrates On The Central Issue Of "Siblings In Conflict." It Is An Analysis Of Tobias Wolff's "The Richer Brother." It Has Parenthentical Documentation And Is Solid.

1205 words - 5 pages

The Measure of a ManAnd in this way, smiling, nodding to the music, he went another mile or so and pretended that he was not already slowing down, that he was not going to turn back, that he would be able to drive on like this alone, and have the right answer when his wife stood before him in the doorway of his home and asked, Where is he? Where is your brother?(Wolff 269)What is the measure of a rich man? Is it his material possessions, the extent of his spirituality, or is it how he chooses to share his wealth with others, whether it is material or spiritual? Are we really our "brother's keeper" or are we keepers of only our own wants and desires? These are all questions posed by Tobias Wolff in his short story, "The Rich Brother." However, he provides an underlying answer to these questions. Is Pete really the richer brother because he has more material possessions? Wolff leads the reader to believe that this statement is not accurate. Although Pete has more money and material possessions than his brother, Donald is truly the richer brother because of his spiritual insight and the care he exhibits toward Pete. Money alone is not the measure of a rich man. Wolff conveys this message through Pete's values, his attitude toward Donald, and through religious symbolism.Wolff makes it very evident to the reader what Pete's values are throughout the story. When Pete has the dream about being blind it allows the reader to draw the conclusion that he is blinded by his own wealth. He cannot see what is really important in life. Pete is more concerned about being seen as a prosperous individual than he is about being seen as a spiritual individual. Because of this it is hard for him to understand his brother Donald and this is evident when the narrator says,Pete couldn't make sense of it. Their parents were both dead, but while they were alive neither of them had found it necessary to believe in anything. They had managed to be decent people without making fools of themselves, and Pete had the same ambition...(Wolff 257)Pete believes that money is a sign of your success in life and he feels that Donald's life is worthless because he doesn't have any money or material things to show for it. This is made apparent when Pete says, "You don't know! How could you know? You get money by holding out your hand... You work too. Don't kid yourself brother..."(Wolff 267). Another example of this is when the narrator says,He handed down his judgements in ways that he seemed to consider subtle: through significant silence, innuendo, looks of mild despair that said, Brother, what have you come to? What Pete had come to, as far as he could tell, was prosperity. That was the real issue between them. Pete prospered and Donald did not prosper...(Wolff 257)Another instance in which his values are illustrated is when Donald asks him what he dreams about and Pete says, "Sex and money. Mostly money. A nightmare is when I dream I don't have any..."(Wolff 261). This allows the...

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