Different works of art reflect various events that occur in real life. Works of literature either explain or provide responses to real life situations with the addition of a fictional twist. Literature works explore different real life themes, which allows readers to identify with the different characters. Tobias Wolff’s story titled “Bullet in the Brain” explains the last memory of Anders, a man who has lived his life being critical of others (Wolff). The story also explains the circumstances leading to Anders’ death as well as how his life had changed from when he was younger. The short story helps the reader to understand the need for respect in everyday life activities by showing the reader how one man’s arrogance and disrespect results in his death. The story also employs memories to show the impact of being too critical of everything in life.
Wolff’s story helps us understand the negative impact that being disrespectful on conversations. While in the bank, Anders stands between two women holding a conversation. When one woman tries to talk to him by commenting on a teller who closes her section, Anders responds in a critical manner and says, “Damned unfair Tragic, really. If they're not chopping off the wrong leg, or bombing your ancestral village, they're closing their positions.” (Wolff 200) This response startles the woman, as she did not expect such a response. The critical responses result in the woman keeping quiet and avoiding any conversation with Anders. This critical response illustrates the impact of arrogance on the creation of conversations and friends.
The story also provides an understanding of the need to censor certain things from our speech. Wolff explains Anders’ critical nature to have been a result of his career as a book review (Wolff 200). Anders provides a negative and critical response to everything he is told while in the bank. His critical responses result in readers seeing Anders as arrogant and disrespectful. One of the instances where his critical nature is viewed as arrogance is during the start of the robbery. He makes fun of the robber’s statement by saying, “Oh, bravoDead meatGreat script, eh?” (Wolff 201). Anders’ critical nature results in him taking every moment as a joke. The same critical nature results in his death as he is shot after laughing at a statement made by the robber.
Wolff’s story also illustrate the impact of disobedience. The robbers order everyone in the bank to keep quiet. Anders’ does not listen to the command and continues to make critical comments on everything occurring at the bank. His comments result in the robbers threatening to kill him if he does not keep quiet. “Hey! Bright boy! Did I tell you to talk? “No," Anders said. “Then shut your trap.” (Wolff 202). The woman in front of him also warns Anders’ against his disobedience. The woman tells him to keep quiet but due to his disobedience, he still comments and ends up paying with his life.
Wolff’s story also helps the reader to understand that time can result in people changing. Wolff introduces different events from Anders’ past with the aim of showing that he was always not disrespectful and arrogant. The various memories from that of his first love to stories told during his years as a student result in the reader viewing Anders as a human being (Peterson Par. 2). Anders’ does not remember any good or bad memories from his adult life. His last memory involves him remembering a summer when he was a child. His memory showed him a time when he still had respect for hat people felt. While picking sides, he notices a grammatical error in one of the player’s sentences. He, however, decides to keep it to himself and avoids any arguments with his friends. His respect results in him enjoying himself. This memory indicates how much he had changed from his childhood. The memory also indicates the value of respect in a person’s life. All the other memories stated in the story explain Anders’ to have lived a critical but a sort of sad life. His enjoyed part of his adult life but due to his critical nature, he always found something to destroy the fun. The memory, however, shows a time when he truly enjoyed himself. By holding back his words, he was able to enjoy playing baseball with his friends.
Wolff’s story helps readers to understand the need for respecting others. Wolff uses the various responses to show Anders’ lack of respect. Lack of respect is also noted due to his arrogance even when his life is threatened. His disobedience also illustrates a lack of respect, which results in him being shot in the head. The various memories explained also showed how miserable Anders’ life had become due to his lack of respect for other people (Superblinky Editor Par. 9). He lost value for everything in his life and only seems to value a childhood memory where he had acted respectfully. Wolff’s story also illustrates how one’s career can affect their lives as he takes his negative critics too far and even applies them in real life situation without considering the consequences.
Peterson, Joshua. “Bullet in the Brain” Analysis. 29 August 2012. Web. <https://joshuapetersonblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/bullet-in-the-brain-analysis/>.
Superblinky Editor. Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff Summary and Analysis. 30 July 2009. Web. <http://superblinky.com/bullet-in-the-brain-by-tobias-wolff-summary-and-analysis/>.
Wolff, Tobias. "Bullet in the Brain." Wolff, Tobias. The Night In Question. New York, NY: Vintage Contemporaries, n.d. 200-206. Print.