“This Boy’s Life” the Novel by Toby Wolff

Through his This Boy’s Life novel, Toby Wolff shows that the family life of Jack – the protagonist, is very troublesome. Jack’s family is characterized by numerous conflicts in which his mother faces successive family-related problems. Moreover, Jack himself endures serious suffering as a result of being a member of the family. The entire family is thus engulfed in a chain of misfortunes. This phenomenon thus confirms Jack’s statement that his family’s suffering is predetermined. Although Jack expects his family to enjoy a certain level of joy and contentment, the reality is that the family only experiences successive troubles.

On the other hand, by observing that his family life is destined for doom, Jack describes the situation that faces numerous modern-day families. Families in today’s world face so many problems that make it hard for family members to experience real joy and satisfaction. It is thus true that the notion of an ideal family is just a myth. All in all, through the This Boy’s Life novel, Wolff uses the suffering that Jack endures to present the argument that ideal families are inexistent.

Firstly, Jack’s complaint that his family is destined to be always suffering proves true when the successive misfortunes the family faces are examined. The family experiences hardships that follow each other thus making it appear as though suffering is the established way of life for the family. For example, Jack suffers his first grave misfortune when his father deserts the family shortly after Jack’s birth. To make matters worse, the father gets married to a rich lady and settles in Seattle. This hardship forces Jack to accompany Rosemary – his mother, as the two travel to Utah from Florida.

Rosemary seeks to earn a living by securing a job in the uranium mines. Jack expects his family to lead a happy and satisfying life where the father and the mother work in cooperation. Particularly, Jack holds that the father should be the main breadwinner. Such wishes are however rudely rebuffed by Jack’s father’s inconsiderate act of deserting his family. The absence of a father at a very young age thus introduces Jack to misfortunes which gradually increase, thus making it appear as though his family is destined to be always suffering. His statement is thus proven to be true.

In addition, Jack faces other successive troubles due to his mother’s inclination to always pair up with inappropriate male mates. Rosemary’s troubled childhood has negatively affected her ability to choose good men as husbands; she thus befriends people with questionable characters. To begin with, while in Utah, Rosemary involves herself with a man named Roy who soon abandons Jack and his mother. Roy’s act of leaving Rosemary and her son makes Jack become increasingly unsure of how families should function. Although Jack assumes that Roy and Rosemary will belong to a family that will offer satisfaction and happiness for all members, he is shocked when Roy goes away.

Afterwards, the mother encounters Dwight with whom she has a close relationship. The unpleasant character of Dwight depicts itself when Jack joins him in Chinook. Jack sadly learns that Dwight is a cruel and petty man who is not fit to be a father. For example, Jack is unfairly criticized and rebuked by Dwight for insignificant and sometimes nonexistent errors. Dwight does these things in order to demonstrate his power over Jack, thus demonstrating himself (Dwight) to be petty. In addition, Dwight compels Jack to sell newspapers after which Dwight snatches the money from Jack.

This action shows that Dwight is an opportunistic person. Jack is also used by Dwight for Dwight’s selfish reasons. For instance, he trains Jack on fighting methods in order to make Jack beat up Arthur Gayle whom Dwight has a disagreement. Dwight, therefore, demonstrates behaviors that are very contrary to Jack’s views of how a father should behave. Rather than contribute to the satisfaction and happiness of the different family members, Dwight’s mannerisms make Jack’s life hard.

I agree with Jack’s statement that the ideal family does not exist owing to the many sad intrigues and problems that afflict modern-day families. Such family conflicts arise because of the flawed nature of humans. For example, bad qualities like conceit, selfishness, and hypocrisy make contemporary make family life far from ideal. Through demonstrating self-importance, family members fail to consider the views and needs of their fellow members when making various decisions. Such a situation leads to conflicts in families which can at times cause serious consequences.

For instance, things like homicide, divorce, or separation can occur due to different family members’ self-importance. Related to the issue of self-importance is selfishness. When family members are selfish, they do not involve their fellow members in various family matters because they consider those other members’ contributions as not important. For example, a husband may decide to make a significant investment without informing their wife or vice versa.

When the snubbed family members realize of their colleague’s act, they demand for explanations that are mostly unsatisfactory. Conflicts may thus arise, probably leading to the disintegration of the family. Conversely, hypocrisy may cause detrimental conflicts in family settings. As an illustration, a family member may cunningly team up with an external party to undermine a fellow family member. When the evil scheme of the family members is discovered, disputes will inevitably arise. Depending on no how such disagreements are handled, serious harm may be caused to the family unit. The preceding explanations of how family life is usually disrupted by inherent human imperfections thus make Jack’s argument that ideal families are inexistent ring true.

In conclusion, through the This Boy’s Life novel, Wolff analyses the family experiences of Jack, thus demonstrating that an ideal family situation is very elusive. For example, Jack, accompanied by Rosemary, faces a string of family-related misfortunes. Firstly, Jack is abandoned by his father when he is very young. Afterward, as a result of Rosemary’s poor choices of husbands, Jack has to live with various men who prove very troublesome to him. Roy abandons Rosemary and Jack while Dwight is abusive and cruel to both Rosemary and Jack. These events make Jack’s view that family life ought to be happy and satisfied become challenged. In addition, the experiences of Jack prove that ideal family situations do not exist. Jack himself makes a statement that his life is destined for failure, thus showing that the family is not ideal.

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