The Rich Brother Essay

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The word “rich” can take on quite a few different meanings, depending both on one's interpretation of the word and the context in which it is used. Most people instinctively assume that its definition focuses solely on the possession of a great source of monetary wealth; however, the word can also represent an abundance, and, in having that abundance, obtaining a sense of fulfillment or wholeness with it. In “The Rich Brother,” a short story written by Tobias Wolff, two brothers named Pete and Donald are both portrayed as rich, but in completely different ways. Pete possesses a vast amount of money while Donald finds his richness through being kind, generous, and religious. In reading "The Rich Brother," a superficial reader might assume that…show more content…
As stated in “The Rich Brother,” Donald is always in pursuit of a religion: he is “obsessed with the fate of his soul" (324). In being persistent about religion, Donald finds a sense of completeness in his life from being “in the Lord” (325). Oppositely, Pete is not religious at all, and obtains no sense of wholeness. This is exemplified through Pete’s urgency to try new and exhilarating activities, such as skydiving (324). He also has an impulse to buy expensive items, including a brand new car, that aren’t a necessity to him (326-327). Donald, through his religious and generous nature, obtains a sense of fulfillment. As it is clearly stated in “The Rich Brother,” Donald believes that he has a “purpose in life” while Pete is not aware of his (328). Both Donald and Pete are considered “rich,” but the two brothers hold different definitions of the word. Pete is regarded as “rich” because he has great deal of money, and Donald is considered to be rich because of his kind, generous, and religious nature. As one can conclude from Donald and Pete’s contrasting personalities, Donald finds a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and wholeness, while Pete cannot. Although both of the brothers are deemed “rich,” the more significant definition of “rich” is found in Donald due to his sense of fulfillment and contentment of his
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