Tobias Wolff Identity

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Tobias Wolff’s memoir, ‘This Boy’s life’ explores his record of growing up in 1950s post-war America, frequented with tropes surrounding masculinity, identity, and relationships between individuals. Throughout the text Jack frequently attempts to ‘run away’ and escape from his past identity in the literal sense in hopes that it will allow a change of character. Jack also takes on facades dissimilar to his own in an attempt to adapt to an identity. Moreover, the reason Jack attempts to assume different identities is due to the ‘social norm’ and masculine expectations of that time period. Throughout the text Jack attempts to ‘get away’ from his past persona many times however as this repeats, it is obvious, to Jack and readers alike, that you…show more content…
When Jack cannot think of any confessions in catechism class he listens to Sister James’ own confessions, reflects, and then regurgitates the exact same confessions to the priest, Jack knows that these are not his own sins and that lying about them is not even beneficial to claim but he sees that if someone like Sister James, who has a purpose, an identity, can confess to such acts then maybe if confesses the same he will replicate an identity that is as well founded as her own. This does not occur, later on Jack realises that, “Being so close to so much robust identity made me feel the poverty of my own.” This shows that no matter how hard he attempts to assume an identity the truth always catches up. Jack also goes through periods of trying to adopt a character based on seeing them portrayed positively and ‘respected’, which is an extremely sought after trait for him. For example, when Jack is reading ‘Boy’s Life’ he comments that, “I was really no different from the boys whose hustle and pluck it celebrated.” And that “reading about these boys made me restless, feverish with schemes.” To Jack, seeing boys his age, that are succeeding and gaining respect, which is his dream, causes him to change his ambitions to match theirs, in hopes that it will provide him with his much desired identity. However this is not the case, once Jack realises that such dreams exceed his calibre he retracts the ambition and latches onto the next one. Jack is oblivious to the repetition of this cycle and proves time and time again how the truth routinely
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