The Rich Brother Tobias Wolff Analysis

662 Words3 Pages
In "The Rich Brother," Tobias Wolff recounts the story of two brothers—Pete, a successful and cynical real estate agent, and Donald, a highly spiritual drifter—as they embark on a road trip filled with conflict. Most readers' initial instinct is to believe the most optimistic view of the title—namely, that "rich" should be understood in a figurative sense; nevertheless, Wolff was certainly also utilizing the literal definition of "rich," synonymous with "wealthy" or "affluent." Many readers may understandably perceive the title to be figurative and optimistic, leading them to the conclusion that Donald is "The Rich Brother"; however, readers can just as logically interpret the title as literal and pessimistic, leading to the conclusion that,…show more content…
In everyday syntax, "rich" nearly always describes a person with abundant material possessions. Wolff clearly considered this simple and obvious definition along with the complex and figurative meaning of the word as he wrote and titled his story, as he plainly writes in the fourth sentence of the narrative that Pete "worked hard and made a lot of money" (Wolff 323). Conceding this fact, readers must not necessarily view the word "rich" in the title of the story in a positive light. If a reader views the title in its most literal sense and decides that Pete is "The Rich Brother," he must also view it in somewhat of a negative and satirical sense. Pete is, in fact, rich, but a reader must ask, "What is the ultimate goal of his wealth?" After Donald asks Pete what he dreams about, Pete replies, "Sex and money. Mostly money" (Wolff 327). Most readers view this response as shallow and unfulfilling; thus, Pete is far from rich in a spiritual or emotional sense. However, while Pete's aspirations are shallow and ultimately pointless, he remains monetarily rich, albeit in a negative
Open Document