The Liar By Tobias Wolff Analysis

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In Tobias Wolff’s short story “The Liar,” the protagonist, James, lies to help him construct a new identity outside of his family. James tells morbid lies about his mother in order to distance himself from her. Since, the loss of his father, James no longer associates with people who are like him. The lies started after his father’s death and his mother starts noticing how much differently he was acting. Since his mother is treating him like she is disappointed in him, James begins to devolve into a state of repressed bitterness. These lies are his way of expressing himself in a new reality to match his wishes. One example of this is when James says, “Felt like a failure. My lying had that effect on her. She took it personally… She thought…show more content…
It was there morbidity. This was the real issue between us as it had been between her and my father,”(45). James’s mother is desperate to cure her son of his lies, so much as she doesn’t realize that she is hurting him. James’s mother is distraught and is upset with the fact that he is an outsider and unlike his other siblings. Because his mother does not understand his problem James is yearning to get away from her and find out who he can be without being under the influence of her. In conclusion, James lies help him because even though he does not have a connection with his mom, he can accept himself and create a reality that he is finally happy in. James’s final lie, is significantly uplifting rather than morbid, which confirms his true identity and destiny. The final image of James singing suggests something holy and pure that is beyond the negativity he associated with his father and mother. As he tells his Tibetan story on the bus he creates a community of listeners, which is in contrast to what his mother expected from
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