Is The Theme Of Dishonesty In Tobias Wolff's Old School Essay

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In the bildungsroman novel, Old School by Tobias Wolff describes a boy and his journey throughout the school year. Old School is a novel about a boy entering a writing contest to meet a famous author, Ernest Hemingway, which the school’s Dean is very close friends with, so they think. In the novel Old School by Tobias Wolff, the epigraph directs the reader into a straight path of dishonesty with the outcome being self-forgiveness. Wolff uses the theme of self-forgiveness to show that the narrator and Dean Arch Makepeace need to bear with their secrets.
The narrator and Dean Makepeace are both being secretive about what they have done. The narrator enters his poem ‘Summer Dance’ into the Ernest Hemingway contest without telling anyone that …show more content…

When the narrator was sent into the Dean’s office because they figured out that he plagiarized, he was expelled. "If after four years with us you could do this, the headmaster said, then you have understood nothing of what we are. You have never really entered the school...we'll fill one suitcase and send the rest on" (145). The headmaster says that if you haven’t learned anything from the school, it’s like the narrator wasn’t even there. Plagiarism is a big part of school and what caused the narrator to be expelled. Dean Arch Makepeace was having tea and many boys kept asking him if he knew Hemingway personally. "He didn't see this as a lie so much as a kind of dozing off in his attention to the truth. And he was attentive to the truth" (181). Dean Makepeace is allowing this rumor that he knew Ernest Hemingway personally, making him very popular. Makepeace was making this rumor true which causes him to become more dishonest with himself. Arch, :"had left room for doubt that day at the headmaster's tea, and he knew why, or thought he did: some hidden yearning to be part of the great world"(181). Makepeace’s dishonesty get to him as the boys keep asking him questions and testing him if he knew Hemingway. Dean Makepeace was regretful that he let this rumor spread and put this good reputation against him. The author is showing that Dean Makepeace is feeling …show more content…

When the narrator catches up with his old teacher, he is surprised that: "Arch Makepeace, after thirty years at the school, had in the span of a single morning decided to leave"(173). This shows that Makepeace had realized he couldn’t hide the secret any longer. Makepeace conceives that leaving the school was better than staying and having to keep piling up his lie. When the narrator talks to his old teacher about what he had been missing out on, his teacher asks: "So you will come? Yes, I said, I'm almost sure I can come"(172). The narrator accepting the offer of coming back to school has let him forgive himself and his dishonesty. The narrator’s self-forgiveness has let himself come back to school knowing that his immature act was childish and disrespectful. When Arch Makepeace returns to school, the headmaster was thrilled with excitement. "His father, when he saw him coming, ran to meet him"(195). This shows that Arch has been self-forgiven not only from himself but others. This line relates back to when a son returns home and the father forgives him for all that he has done wrong, just like Arch Makepeace and the

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