Commentary On The Brain By Tobias Wolff

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In “Bullet in the Brain,” author Tobias Wolff uses a non-traditional plot and a technique of zooming in/zooming out to help readers understand the difference between wasting their lives or living fully. The effect of shifts in the plot, point of view, and different perspectives of his character startle the reader while simultaneously pulling him into an expanded awareness of the story and its underlying central idea. “Bullet in the Brain” demonstrates Wolff’s profound approach to life with the theme that a life not lived fully is worse than death. It is the process of choosing how to respond boldly and courageously to random acts in each moment that is important and memorable. “So many thing in our world tend to lead us to despair.…show more content…
Wolff is poking fun at himself and the reader by leading them to assume they know the outcome. He continues to lead the reader by using third-person limited point of view to describe a typical bank and to only depict Anders’ personality. He masterfully couples the limited point of view with far-away psychic distance to make the reader assume that the plot will keep following a predictable path. This technique allows Wolff to control the reader’s involvement with the character and the overall ho-hum story, up to this point. Then, Wolff suddenly shifts the psychic distance, changes to third person omniscient, and lets the reader view the character’s last thoughts. Anders voice comes through as the reader gets closer in his head. Wolff takes a significant risk with his narrative by jumping straight from a far-away distance into Anders’ last memory. It is like a movie being shot with a wide-angle camera, then suddenly, almost jarringly, the camera zooms in for a close-up. In a paragraph reminiscent of a “CSI” medical zoom-in moment, Wolff uses this psychic close-up when he describes the bullet tearing into Anders’ brain: “the first appearance of the bullet in the cerebrum set off a crackling chain of ion transports and neurotransmissions” (1358). The reader is taken into the character’s very mind and memories to create an extreme sense of proximity and understanding of
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