How to be a Good Citizen: A Reader Response to This Boy’s Life

After part three, the story of young Tobias Wolff, a.k.a. Jack continues with the opening where Dwight thought of enrolling Jack into the Boy Scouts to turn him into a man. He also forced him to do household chores and sell newspapers, a la Cinderella. Jack started to get fed up with his new stepfather as in Dwight’s eyes, he is a good-for-nothing. Plus, he hated the job of husking chestnuts as the fluid made his hands turn orange and stink. And as for the “a la Cinderella” part, I mean that the household chores pretty much matches the plot of the fairy-tale where Cinderella is forced by her stepmother and sisters to do chores. See the striking similarity? If not, then you haven’t read either This Boy’s Life or Cinderella yet.¬†Another example of Jack’s growing resistance against Dwight is when he forced him to wear an old, oversized scout uniform that somehow belonged to his son Skipper. If he cannot afford a scout uniform, then why does he forced Jack to wear it? Because he’s Dwight, and he can do whatever he wants and whenever he wants!

In the fourth part, the “Fight Club” moment came when Jack and the boys saw another boy named Arthur Gayle, which is the biggest dork in sixth grade and was a sissy, according to Jack himself. His girlish attitude is somehow different than Dwight, who was soon to be found out as a violent person in the later chapters.

Plus, Arthur's girlish attitude is somewhat different than Hideyoshi Kinoshita's girlish looks.

When Jack started by calling Arthur a sissy, he started to punch him. Jack retaliated, and a fight ensued. Soon, his “girlish” attitude was gone, but later came back when he came out as the loser. In other words, Arthur only showed his aggressive attitude for a short while.

In the late parts of part four, Dwight forces Jack to play basketball in street shoes, which he trips over when he was in the court. This lead to his school team’s loss in a basketball match. Even though, Dwight later extended his abuse by calling him a sissy, which refers to the Arthur Gale case above. He even formed a sour relationship with Rosemary only because he was a poor shooter and Rosemary isn’t. In the final part of part four, he later gives Jack blows for stealing his car in the late night.

In conclusion, we all know that Jack’s experience of child abuse helps us to mend ourselves who we are without allowing ourselves to be abused at first place. We also get from this book that no matter how hard we try, things will start to get worse, but in the end we must not give up. If you lack motivation, read this book — this will motivate you for a while.


Dat Uncool Feelin’: A Reader Response to This Boy’s Life

Chapter two, ‘Uncool’, describes the situation where young Tobias Wolff and his mother moved to Seattle and meets new people, including Taylor and Silver, two women named Kathy and Marian, and a seems-harmless-at-a-first-glance man named Dwight. They then moved to Chinook and spent the rest of their lives there. When I first read the part where young Tobias, called Jack at that time, moved with his mother to Seattle, things went pretty plain sailing for him. New address = new life. When the boys had free time, they usually turned on the TV and watch Mickey Mouse Club. When the boys saw Annette, they started to make vulgar references; and to my eyes, they’re just boys — even big boys would make such references for having a bone, which to me sounds like b***r. However, Jack does not feel the same way as the other boys. He rather expressed his feelings to Annette as he did to Alice instead. So, in conclusion to this point, the boy’s attitude to be sick is ‘uncool’. That is why this part is named ‘Uncool’.

The next point is Jack’s mother, Rosemary’s relationship with Gil, which ended badly. I don’t know why Gil suddenly dumped her in this chapter, but he DID dumped her by not taking her to their first date. Jack’s caring attitude is like a weapon to soften hard hearts, to repair broken feelings, and to strengthen weak emotions. In other words, Jack comforts his mother presumably by telling her that she will get a new boyfriend.

The third point is when Rosemary was later remarried to Dwight, Jack realizes that the rest of his life will be changed forever. Dwight was a seems-harmless-at-first man as described above, but towards the end of the part, specifically in the third part *OMG SPOILERS!* he did convince Jack that his life will turn forever, hence the reverence ‘the next curve’.

The final point is the incident where Jack graffiti’d the bathroom wall by scratching obscene words with a girl’s comb. This is a deviance to the school rules, and therefore Jack has to meet the school principal for this. Besides, the principal also notices the nicotine stain on his fingers, but the part that had me cracking up with laughter is when he said an obscene word, “F*** you” in response to the question Rosemary gave to him regarding what he wrote on the bathroom wall.

In conclusion, part two describes Jack’s pleasant life at first until the time when Dwight made his debut. The author also conveys a message that someday your life will change when a specific event happened, e.g. when someone like Dwight arrived to the scene. Finally, I would like everyone to read this book when they have a down time to know what will happen after Dwight appeared on the scene.