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.

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