This constantly pretending to make his identity something

Boy’s Life holds countless memories of Tobias Wolff’s
childhood, teenage, and young adult life. The tone throughout the entire memoir
is matter-of-fact and somewhat hopeful. Everything is straight to the point,
yet Wolff constantly hopes for a better life. This memoir contains Wolff’s
detailed thoughts and feelings on every situation. He claims his wrongdoings
and tries to bring out pity from the reader for the character he has portrayed
himself to be. It is understandable that the reader would feel pity for Tobias
because of the consequences he had to face and the situations he had to deal
with; however, his troubled life was a direct result of his actions and
choices, thus deeming him unworthy of pity. Wolff definitely had the full
ability to change his life around from what it turned out to be. The
consequences and situations he deserves pity for would not have occurred if
only he had used the opportunities he had wisely without wasting the chances he
was offered. He does not justify or give valid reasoning to his decisions. Tobias
could have lived the better life he hoped for if he decided to choose his path
differently on countless occasions.

            It is not Tobias’s fault that his mom
constantly dated abusive men or that he had to live a rough life due to
financial problems, but Tobias had a number of chances to change the outcome of
his teenage and young adult life he hated so much, instead of constantly
pretending to make his identity something he was not. Many may argue otherwise
that the consequences Tobias suffered through are not his fault and deserve
sympathy and pity. Yet the consequences Tobias faces are due to his mindset and
choices. The reader should not pity the consequences Wolff encountered because
he brought it all upon himself.

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            Tobias started off on the wrong side
when he lost interest in school at an early age. His mother constantly
reprimanded him to focus and make the education he was provided matter, yet
Tobias never took her seriously. This is nothing new as many kids are not
interested in school at a young age. On the other hand though, Tobias started
breaking school windows for fun, vandalizing bathrooms, starting writing curse
words on the walls, stealing, and basically doing everything he could to get in
trouble. Yet Tobias claims to be troubled and worried when his mother started
looking for a man to marry. The only reason his mother wanted to get married
was so Tobias could have a father figure in his life and settle down a little.
Tobias knew the consequences his school suspensions had on his mother, but
still continued his actions. Wolff does not deserve any sympathy from the
reader as his actions brought him the trouble.

            After dating a few weeks, Tobias’s
mother settled with a troublesome man, Dwight Hansen. He was a single father
with three children, Skipper, Norma, and Pearl. He often abused his own
children which was quite clear with the bald spot on Pearl’s head. When Dwight
laid a marriage proposal to Tobias’s mother, she wanted Tobias to agree first.
So they decided to send Tobias to live over at Dwight’s house over Christmas
break and then decide. Tobias was not fond of the time he spent with Dwight,
Skipper, Norma, and Pearl. Instead, he hated every second of it. Dwight always
put him to work and was occasionally violent with him. Dwight’s brutality only
worsened with his threats towards Tobias during his stay. Tobias saw Dwight’s
lifestyle and behavior, knowing the consequences that would come if he and his
mom lived with Dwight and his three children. Yet when his mother asked Tobias
what he thought of Dwight and whether she should accept the marriage proposal,
Tobias agreed. His mother specifically told him that she did not love Dwight
and would do anything for Tobias to make him happy, but Tobias claimed that
living with Dwight was his fate and there was nothing he could do about it. What
Dwight does to Tobias is cruel and Tobias deserves the pity towards the abuse
he faces, but none for his decision. It is certainly a difficult choice for
Tobias and must have been a very hard decision to agree to the marriage. At the
end of the day though, it was an incorrect decision. Everyone makes bad decisions,
but those mistakes should not be pitied, instead, they should be fixed. The
abuse that Tobias suffered would not have happened if Tobias did not leave his
life decisions to “fate”. Tobias knew about Dwight’s abusive nature, but stilled
agreed to live with him. He and his mother would not face the cruel consequences
of living with Dwight and his family if Tobias told his mother how he really
felt and not let his life just “go with the flow”. He had to sacrifice his
childhood and change his entire lifestyle to accommodate with Dwight’s forceful

The life Tobias faced at home made him a
different person overall. He soon started getting drunk every night and hung
out with the wrong group of kids in school. At this point, Tobias’s childhood
and teenage life had been wasted, and he too claimed this. His only hope now
was college. His father went to Yale University and his brother, Geoffrey, was
enrolled in Princeton University at that time. He was getting in contact with
his older brother after several years. Geoffrey told Tobias that he would help
him with applying to colleges, give him advice, and assist him in anything he
needed. Yet once again Tobias threw away this opportunity and wasted his chance
by lying to Geoffrey. He claimed he had straight A’s, was involved in many
activities, had received many awards, and participated in multiple sports.
While in reality, Tobias skipped school more then he attended and was involved
with literally nothing educational or extra-curricular. He wanted this identity
of himself that he was not. Now the reader may feel pity, but certainly should
not. Tobias created his own identity and his actions and decisions lead him to
his life today. Geoffrey genuinely wants to help Tobias get in great
universities and Tobias he will be accepted in easily. Tobias is very excited,
but does not realize that his brother thinks of him as a genius, something the
universities will find out he is not. Tobias creates fake recommendation
letters and makes a fake transcript to apply to big, known universities he
wants to be accepted into. He soon faces reality once again when all the
schools he applied to, reject him instantly. He feels its “game over” and his
life will stay the mess if has always been. Yet whose fault is it? If he had
not lied to his older brother and told him the truth, he would have received
the help he needs and applied to colleges more on his level rather than be
rejected from all.

            Luck is still on Tobias’s side, or
should I say his “fate” is going well for him when an alumnus from Hill School,
Mr. Howard, came to Concrete High School, and found an interest in Tobias’s
recommendation letters and transcript, not realizing that they were forged. Mr.
Howard talks to Tobias about attending the Hill School, but he claims he will
think about it. He is still bummed that he did not get accepted to the schools
he wanted to, but he should not waste this opportunity he has received. He
wants the false identity in his brain to become a reality. What Tobias does not
realize is that it can only be done with actions. Just talking about getting straight
A’s will not get him A’s. He needs to put in work and actually attend school
which is in unwilling to do. He is facing a crisis within himself, but he
himself caused it. His actions are the reasons that the consequences came out
to be how they are. Nobody is to blame, but him. So why the sympathy to Wolff’s

            Tobias accidently cuts off part of
his finger and has to stay in the hospital. He soon gets addicted to morphine,
depressed, cranky, and starts having violent fights with Dwight. He leaves
Dwight’s house with his mom’s permission and stays at his best friend, Chuck’s
house. Here with a fresh start without Dwight and his harassment, Tobias
continues to let his opportunities slide away. More so, he starts to act up,
proving to himself that he is truly free without Dwight. Yet this hurts him
further. Tobias with his friends get drunk and cause trouble in Mr. Welch’s
farm by destroying it. The Welch’s have nothing left and need to find money to
restore their farm while that was their only income. While his friend’s apologize
to Mr. Welch and agree to help him restore his farm, Tobias not only denies
helping, but does not apologize because “he does not feel like it”. That is not
a character a reader should ever pity. The weight of his actions put equal
weight on the consequences Tobias so easily complains about. Due to his actions
he got kicked out of Chuck’s house. With “fate” on his side once more, Tobias
decided to go to Hill School and got accepted in with his fake references.  

            This entire memoir has supplied me
with countless reasons as to why a reader should not pity a character like
Tobias Wolff. He faced the consequences he did, due solely to his actions and
choices. Multiple examples prove that feeling sympathetic or pity for Wolff is
useless when he himself brought his troubles upon him. In every situation,
Wolff knew the consequences of his actions, but continued to make those choices
over and over again. The identity he tried so hard to hide from others was only
emphasized more through his decisions. As a grown-up Wolff is writing this
memoir to show the reader flaws in his teenage thinking and that he still has
not forgiven himself. He hopes the reader will sympathize with him, but there
should be no room for pity.