Dishonesty In Tobias Wolff's In The Garden Of The North American Martyrs

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In his book, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, Tobias Wolff explores the central themes of transparency and honesty. Although he does not explicitly say whether it is right or wrong to portray a fake persona to the rest of the world, the reader can take away a few big questions from three of the stories in the book, particularly “Smokers”, “Worldly Goods”, and “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs”. At what point do we stop being ourselves when we want to become someone else? Wolff explores this question in the story “Smokers”. The narrator loses his own identity in an attempt to become someone he is not. He meets another boy named Eugene who he does not like because they both share similar backgrounds. Very early in the story it becomes clear that the narrator wants to be associated with the rich boys and spend time with them. Talbot, a boy who attends the same school, meets these criteria and becomes the perfect target for the narrator to befriend. The narrator begins to smoke, write essays for him, and joins the basketball team, things he would not likely have done without the intention to become friends with Talbot. Towards the end of the story, the narrator demonstrates a dark image that was not present in the beginning.…show more content…
It becomes clear that having a good image is important to him when he compulsively buys a car to show it off. He is soon involved in a fender bender where he meets a woman named Clara. At first, Clara seems like a very likeable person who may be abused by her husband. Davis sympathizes with her and assures her the incident was not her fault. It is impossible to determine whose fault it really was, but Davis makes sure to report exactly what happened without implying anything else. It is later revealed that Clara ends up filing a claim against him, saying it was his fault and asking for $3,000 in

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