Analysis Of Tobias Wolff 's ' This Boy 's Life '

1046 Words Apr 10th, 2015 5 Pages
Tobias Wolff’s prepositional memoir, This Boy’s Life, positions the audience to question the role that luck plays in the lives of the characters, particularly Toby and his mother. This account of growing up in post-war America on his life from 1955 to 1965 allows Wolff to reflect on the restrictions imposed on the disenfranchised family by societal norms that prevent them from achieving their dreams of progression through the social hierarchy. Luck plays a very minimal role in the memoir as the characters’ lives are surrounded by an absence of luck. Instead Rosemary and Toby are victims of a variety of circumstances. The social standards imposed through the patriarchy system, the cyclic nature of domestic abuse leading to this. As a result, several characters are confined by the strict social norms established during the 1950’s and the American Dream not by fortune.

Throughout Wolff’s memoir both Toby and Rosemary are relentlessly shadowed by abusive men and are positioned to be perceived as victims of the patriarchal system and the 1950’s concept of masculinity. The idea of masculinity results in dangerous behaviours and attitudes of men such as Roy and Dwight, for whom women are almost literally ‘chattels’ to be acquired and kept. In both instances when Rosemary decides to end the relationship she fears the response that is most likely and which does eventuate like being stalked and followed like prey and in the case of Dwight, threatened with death and then nearly…
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