In This Boy’s Life, Rosemary Fails As A Parent. Do You Agree?

1435 words - 6 pages

obias Wolff recalls Dwight’s violent and destructive nature, and from his first day at Chinook Toby is abused by him. Nevertheless, Toby’s unconditional love for his mother gives him strength to not only attempt to build a relationship with Dwight, but also survive his less than ideal childhood. Metaphorically, Rosemary is always present inToby’s writing and therefore this is as much her story as it is Toby’s and a reflection onher influence. Toby’s writing allows him to escape the brutality of his world, explore different versions of himself and the difficult journey of growing up and becoming a man. Wolff’s terse and laconic use of language captures the tension of his struggle during his ...view middle of the document...

Perhaps for her,Toby’s departure could mean an escape from a violent and abusive man she does not love, a small town with no opportunities and a completely new beginning, with no living reminders of the past. However, Toby being merely a boy, who does not understand the‘why’s of his world’ and the motivations of adults, fails to see the reasons behind his mother’s inarticulateness and the child’s naivety allows him to believe that Rosemary wanted him to stay with her.

Wolff’s economic and honest prose reveals the destructive nature of Dwight and the pressure he put upon Toby to leave for Paris. The language captures Dwight’s abusive nature through the images of Dwight’s ‘flaring nostrils’ and the ‘jabbing’ of his finger at Toby. Even as a boy, Toby understands that Dwight is doing everything in his power to get rid of him, however the prose is devoid of an understanding about why this is so. From his very first day in Chinook, Toby is abused by Dwight. Wolff describes his drive with Dwight from Seattle as “sullen reverie”, alluding to Dwight’s violence which is yet to come. The prose, written with detachment and formality and in a grim yet accepting tone, reveals the tension between Dwight and Toby, and the chilling memory of Dwight killing a beaver forebodes a grotesqueness. Toby’s attempt to do what Dwight had told him to despite his fear highlights his unconditional love for his mother, his willingness to put up with this kind of treatment for her and not let her down. The image of Dwight being strained by the beaver’s weight is a metaphorical of the tainting of Toby’s youth and innocence and the blood which ran from the beaver’s nose and onto Dwight’s shoes is symbolic of forever staining Dwight’s soul for destroying Toby’s childhood and inner child, consequently taking away the youthful days that can never be returned. The narrative voice is honest, however despite the grotesqueness of the scene, the voice is not angry and Wolff is not portraying himself as a victim. The use of short and laconic sentences builds up a dark, ominous and foreboding tone through the images of “the river flashed green”, “pale cold” and “mountains darkened”. It is as though the environment is attempting to warn Toby of the cruelty and struggle that awaits him.

Having heard that Toby has been imitating him, Dwight acts cooly and discourteously towards Toby from the beginning and his behavior serves as a contrast to the display of manners and humor he showed for Rosemary, and sums up his personality- violent,drunk and ever offended by Toby’s existence. The “fogged up” glass isolates Toby from Dwight, and perhaps alludes to the idea of Dwight, from the very beginning, not taking an interest in Toby or being a positive part of his life, as well as the lasting effect Dwight’s behavior would have on Toby’s identity, which he was not able to see at that time as a child. Toby’s attempt at making everything “just right” exposes his deep love his mother and his...

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