“Our Time” by John Edgar Wideman Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Dec 23rd, 2019

Different people, being in different circumstances, hold different views towards a common thing in life. What one believes to be rational does not mean the same to another person. Thus, people, to justify their underlying assumptions and beliefs, react differently to a common situation. Hence, when we judge the rationality of a person’s action, we should always look at the action from the person’s perspectives, identifying his or her underlying motivation to carry out such activity.

In “Our Time,” John Edgar Wideman conveys his enlightenment of perspectives through the voices of his brother, Robby, his mother, and him. Wideman looks back at what motivates his brother to help himself come to an understanding of his brother and the troubles, which would steer him towards drugs, crime, and involvement in a murder that would mean a life sentence in prison. (Bartis 10).

One element of “Our Time” that I feel interested in was the scene when his brother’s best friend Garth passed away at the hospital. That was the major turning point of Robby’s life. “It is our time now, we can’t let Garth down…we will do the best. We will put it in the top for him”.

Grath’s death indirectly intensified Robby’s pessimistic attitude towards life. He thought it’s not fair for his friend to die because he expected that the doctor could do something more to save his friend’s life. Robby ends up resenting the word “the world’s stone bitch. Nothing true if it is true”.

By focusing on the viewpoint of his mother and his brother Robby, John Edgar Wideman was trying to show the feeling that he went through in his life. Otherwise, he was trying to discuss those different people have a different perspective on how they see things in life. What you believe is rational does not necessarily mean the same thing to other people. By using the major point in his brother’s life, Wideman successfully, introduced us how his brother ended up getting into troubles further in his life. (Wideman 5)

Wideman is left in a situation in which he can not tell the expected effects of the death of his brother. He became worried about the future. The author has highlighted to his readers about the past time of Robby where he grew as the youngest of the children in his family. It was a challenge for Robby to bear with the challenges and expectations of his older brothers and sisters. The author manifests the life of Robby as a different from his family members since he was the rebel because as his siblings excelled in school, he was in a different angle of thinking.

John explains to the readers that despite the challenges facing Robby, he always kept going in the desire to know and understand the missing link in his life that his mother did not tell him. John Edgar goes ahead to show light to the life of Robby. He explains a time when Robby becomes wanting to be the rebel in the family. He manifests to the readers how the deaths in his family background affected the social activities and annual ceremonies.

This is demonstrated on how his birthday was chaotic in time in the year when no one in the family was in the mood due to sequential deaths in the family. Robby ends up having a birthday pledged fully with misery. His experience in Shadyside seemed to affect his lines and the way of thought to become unpredictable. This was because his mother preached safety from corrupted Homewood where there was a lot of antagonism in the streets and implied violence.

John Edgar explains how Wideman took his time to evaluate the causes of his brothers’ experiences. Wideman connects his experiences throughout Robby’s reminiscing. Despite his careful thought, he could not grasp how his brother ended up in prison. John Edgar wide is man, in this time present time talks to his brother in prison and imagines how fate has taken him to prison for life. (Boden 13)

Wideman visits his brother in prison and tries to understand his brother’s separation with the wide family; he thus decides to deal with opening up and giving a careful hear as a brother as opposed to a stranger to the words of Robby. The wide man felt that having listened to his voices over a long time, it was thus important to give a chance and listen to his brother. This decision was to enable him to sympathize with his brother’s mindset. As a result, he had to overcome the brotherly divisions. (David 7)

Wideman heard and carefully noted his brother’s voice that blamed the world for his misfortunes by seizing on the difference which allowed him a room to thrive which landed him into a cage. John could hardly understand how his brother could choose to lead the life of being locked into a cage.

Therefore; John’s mother point of view was expressed in regards to the focus of John. However, in the essay, a point is evident where her voice is expressed in her thoughts and feelings and John’s inferences. Johns mother reflects memories about Garth, what makes John realize a point on looking back at his life. John’s mother becomes an acid critic and aggressive as he looks and analyses the status quo.

This is because she was a loving mother and loved all his children and was willing to help them all to the far. Thus, wireman’s essay sought to pass a message of wisdom and understanding to the life’s of people. Hence, for a rational decision, it’s always essential to consider the thoughts and actions of others. (Miller 9)

Therefore, in conclusion, the analysis of the work of John Edgar has given the reader an understanding of the importance of considering other people’s thoughts and actions. This essay has taught readers on the role of family members to the siblings and how poor relationship between family members can affect the lives of their members.

Diverse consequences in the family due to fate have affected the family’s social activities, for example, the death Garth has affected different family functions. This is exemplified by Robby’s birthday which was by consequential deaths of family members.

John Edgar Wide man shows the reader how Robby was born in a good family, but other aspects like fate and bad luck impacted his life to the extent that he spent his entire life in a cage in prison. Wideman in his essay lets his readers understand that it’s always good for people to look at ideas of others from their standpoint and point of view. This is depicted when he later listens to his brother.

Works Cited

Bartis, James T. Analysis of our times: Prospects and lessons. New York: McGraw Hill Publishers (2008). Print.

Boden, Ted, Article review on our times. New York: Rutledge Publishers (2011). Print.

David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing: A Brief Guide to Argument. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, (2005). Print.

Miller, G. Tyler and Spoolman, Scott. Our time’s way of thinking and rationality. London: Wiley & Sons Press, 2007. Print.

Wideman, John E., “Our Time.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2005.




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