This Boy’s Life and the Complexities of Life in the Novel
This entry begins with Jack starting his first year in high school. He saved eighty dollars which he had either solen or earned. He fantasizes of going to Alaska to escape and plans to take his mother with him. He and Arthur confide in each other because they discuss their future plans and secrets. Arthur introduces his father, Cal and his mother, Mrs. Gayle. Mrs. Gayle is a snob who doesn’t get along with her son. Arthur and Jack become close like brothers even by sharing a kiss. Arthur is more of a storyteller than an athlete. Jack introduces the Ballard boys from boy scouts. Arthur, Jack, and the group of Ballard boys have a few cigarette together before parting their ways. On his way home, Jack stops at the Blackout booth and meets Smoke and Rusty. He describes Smoke as fat and always smiling in contrast to Rusty who is thin and nervous. Jack tries to win points for the configuration of the disks on the board. Jack discovers that Dwight got a dog named Champion for the family. Jack’s afraid of it at first until the dog gets to know him. Dwight bought Jack the dog in place of his Winchester, Jack is furious.
After Jack gets over it, he takes Champion hunting for the first time. Champion hears the gun fire and runs under the car. Dwight gives him some sympathy, but Jack thinks that the dog is pathetic. The next day, Champion uses the restroom in the car and Dwight cleans it up. Jack is annoyed with Champion and hits the dog constantly. Jack feels bad for hurting him and becomes more sympathetic to the dog. Champion becomes Jack’s companion and the dog attaches itself to him. Jack takes it hunting, but the dog fears everything. One day Champion gets lost, Jack calls for him, and the dog jumps out at him. After the trip, Jack sleeps until lunch time; he eats a sandwich in bed after he wakes up. Dwight comes into his room and he hides the sandwich from him. Unfortunately, Dwight catches him and locks Jack in his blankets while Dwight hits him. Jack screams his name but it goes in through one ear and out the other. He grabs Jack’s hair and hits him on the back of the neck. After the abuse concludes, Dwight demands that Jack should clean up his room. Champion takes up cat killing as a sport by bringing several dead cats to the house.
Dwight takes the dead felines and drops them into the river. Champion gets into trouble with the camp director and tells Dwight that he better let the dog go. While, Dwight gets yelled at, Rosemary and Jack spend their watching The Untouchables and they use some of the catchphrases on Champion by saying, “why don’t you take a little ride with Dwight?” Response- Entry No. 6 Page 155 – Page 180-Jack and Arthur are becoming very close friends. I don’t like Arthur, he’s strange and unpredictable. That was disgusting when Dwight bought Champion and traded in the Winchester. I was very angry with him because Jack loved his rifle and if someone traded something I cherished in for something I didn’t want or need, I would kill them. Dwight is such a dictator, I bet that he spends some of Jack’s hard earned pay for alcohol money. Jack has every reason to hate Dwight especially after the intense abuse scene. I felt so bad for Jack when that happened, Dwight needs to control himself. It seems like Dwight is easily annoyed with everything, but Champion. He treats Champion like a king because he doesn’t care when the dog has an accident in their car nor does he care when the dog brings dead cats to the house. Dwight just pretends that they never happened and cleans up after the dog. However, when Jack eats a sandwich in the bed Dwight tortures him. I thought that Dwight was going to kill him because he pulled Jack under the sheets. I thought that the poor boy was going to suffocate. I wonder if Rosemary and Pearl are aware of this because if something like this went on in my household it would be immediately resolved. If anyone did that to me, I would sue them. How can Rosemary tolerate his behavior? Also, I often wonder if Pearl got abused by Dwight because it was never mention in the book.
This entry begins with Jack describing more of his high school experiences. According to him, several of the boys got married, dropped out, or joined the military. He talks about his one teacher Mr. Mitchell. According to Jack, Mr. Mitchell teaches civics and PE and acts as an unofficial recruiter for the army. He teaches them that if we haven’t of developed an atomic bomb then everyone would be speaking German. The man also introduced boxing to the school. After Jack credits Mr. Mitchell, he discusses Miss Houlihan. She teaches speech and teaches them to speak in public. Another teacher called Horseface Greeley teaches shop which is an introductory class for freshmen. Jack brought home good grades at first, but he described them as a fraud because he cheated to get them. He copied off of his friend’s homework and cheated. Afterward he stopped studying all together and his grades dropped. His grades went from A’s to C’s and no one at home know about it. Jack falls in with a crowd of much older boy and smokes behind the school, sometimes they even cut the class. Jack introduces Chuck Bolger. Chuck’s father owns an auto parts store near Van Horn and was the minister of the church. Unfortunately, Chuck isn’t at all like his father, he constantly drinks and talks darkly of religion. He treats Chuck like a brother because he looks at him like a role model. One of Chuck’s friends was in jail for stealing a chainsaw and kidnapping cat and he is called Psycho. Apparently, Chuck was with Psycho when he stole the cat, despite Chuck’s warnings, Psycho kidnapped the animal anyways. The cat belonged to a widow, and Psycho called her telling her that he found her cat. He demanded a $20 reward and if he would not get it, he’d kill the cat. The widow agreed to meet up with him, but he never found her. Jack also introduces Jerry Huff, also known as Huff. Jack calls him a wise bully.
Despite the fact that girls like Huff, the boys however do not. Huff constantly bullies the boys in school, he loiters the bathrooms where he holds boys over toilet bowls by their ankles and steps on their white buck shoes. A boy named Arch Cook runs with Jack’s group. Arch is Huff’s cousin and Jack describes him as crazy. The five of them spend their days piled into Chuck’s ‘53 Chevy. They look for cars that they could siphon gas out of and most of the time they are successful with their attempts. During lunch time they go back to see Arch’s sister, Veronica. Jack describes her as the beauty from Norma’s class. Veronica was married and had two fat little girls whom Jack despised. Veronica was crazy about Chuck and she flirted with him all the time to get his attention, especially if he wasn’t in the mood for it. She always wore short skirts and heels around Chuck, some days she would sit in his lap. After Jack was done at Veronica’s place, he would catch his bus at 3:00 and go home. Jack’s infamous friend knew several women like Veronica and they tried to fix Jack up with half of them. Jack backed out every time because those girls were not his type. Jack confesses that he loves a girl that doesn’t even know it. Her name was Rhea Clark and Jack wanted to be with her and only her. According to Jack’s information, Rhea moved to Concrete from North Carolina during her junior year when he was a freshman. He asked her to dance with him once during a mixer in gym and she accepted. After they dance, Jack is mesmerized with her. Jack’s infamous friend group tries to get him drunk most of the time. They have a lot of luck with doing it even though liquor often disagrees with Jack. Huff and Jack have an interesting relationship because Huff likes to kneel on him and slapped his cheeks. Chuck also likes to hit trees and tells Jack to never do it.
Jack got drunk and fell asleep on his back. When he woke up, he walked back home and Dwight was curious. Jack told him everything and to Jack’s surprise, Dwight let him off with a lecture and advice about hangovers. Rosemary was disappointed in Jack. After the incident, Jack receives a letter and a Princeton t-shirt from his brother, Geoffrey. He arranges a plan to see him while Rosemary campaigns for Senator Jackson and JFK. Jack gets a hold of a checkbook and goes under the name Thomas Findon. He uses it to help purchase magazines, but he is unsuccessful. He ends up having problems with the people in the store so he takes the magazines and runs. The employees chase after him and call him a thief. He gets in touch with Geoffrey and finds out that he plans to move to Europe after graduating from Princeton. Geoffrey sent word to his dad that he and his wife were no longer together and that he wanted to see Jack. One day, Dwight discovered that Jack threw away a jar of mustard. Jack claims that it was empty, but Dwight thinks otherwise. Dwight grabs Jack and asks him multiple times to check if it is empty. Pearl even insists that the jar is empty. Dwight makes him empty the jar many times and isn’t satisfied, so he slaps Jack across the face. Pearl yells at Dwight and they break into an argument. Jack dismisses himself from the conflict and gets in touch with Geoffrey. He tells him about what Dwight did. Geoffrey is furious about it and discusses schools with Jack. He is impressed with Jack’s achievements and tells he to apply to Choate prep school and he does. After Rosemary comes back stressed from campaigning, she drives Jack down to Seattle to take tests. Jack realizes how the test creators tried to trick him on the test. He describes himself as the boy that lived on his teacher’s letters of recommendation.
Good for Jack for staying in high school and not going along with the crowd. Back in his day his classmates ditched school for marriage, jobs, or the military. It seems like Jack befriends a lot of people and normally falls into the wrong crowd. I don’t like Arch, Psycho, and Huff. Huff is a bully and no likes a bully. I think that what he does to boys is cruel, so cruel that I couldn’t mention some of the other things he did. Arch strikes me as a person that is half mental because he does random actions for no reason. I wonder if Huff messed him up or if he was just born that way. Psycho is the right nickname for who ever Psycho is. If a boy like him lived in my neighborhood, I’d make sure to lock the doors at night. He is dangerous and I worried for that cat he kidnapped. My greatest sympathy goes to that widow because if I received the phone call she got from Psycho, I’d call the police. Apparently, she did the right job because she put Psycho behind bars. I was proud of her and Chuck. I liked Chuck, he’s probably the most decent person in Jack’s friend group. I was proud of him when he warned Psycho not to call the widow and take the cat. Hopefully Psycho learned his lesson because what he did was terrible. When the book introduced Veronica, I took immediate dislike to her because she is a tramp. I felt bad for Chuck when she fell all over him, but he’s probably used to it, he might even like it. I’m glad that Jack didn’t let his friends fix him up with girls like her. If Jack went with one of them he’d be unhappy. The boys have an interesting relationships. Chuck and Huff give the boy some life advice Wolff uses syntax to describe their situation, “he held up his hands. They were bleeding. “Don’t hit trees, Jack. Okay?” I said I wouldn’t. “Don’t hit trees”(Wolff 189). First of all, why did Chuck hit trees? When I heard that I wondered if he had a rough day. Jack seems to be doing well in school, I hope that he will get into prep school. I believe that what Dwight did was uncalled for because if the mustard jar is empty, it’s empty. I have never I heard anyone give major attitude about a jar and I felt bad for Jack. Pearl made me proud when she stood up for him and tried to tell her dad off. This scene is what made the book famous especially when Hollywood made it into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. According to the Atlantic: this boy’s life mustard scene, the scene made people question how much of the contents package people can reasonably use. It made many people wonder how poor the family was or if Dwight was just plain crazy. It was also the scene that made Leo get the part in the movie.
This entry begins with Arthur and Jack getting cruel with one another. Mr. Mitchell has to break up their fights, he suggests that they join the “smokers” or the boxing group. Jack and Arthur join and sit on opposite ends of the locker room. Dwight is happy that Jack joined and trains him to become a smoker. As soon as the bell rings in the tournament, the boys go at it and Jack punches Arthur in the face. Dwight is proud of Jack, but Rosemary is disgusted with him. When they drive home from it, Rosemary can’t even look at him, but Dwight finally praises Jack for his actions. After Jack takes his test, he gets a rejection letter from Exeter, Andover, and St. Paul’s. He still has yet to hear back from Choate. Hill School sends an alumnus, Mr. Howard to interview him. They go to the Concrete drugstore and talk, Mr. Howard recommends him for Hill, but warns Jack that the school is difficult. Jack insists that he is ready for a challenge. One day during shop class, Jack slices his finger open. He has to go to a hospital in Mount Vernon for surgery. He has to stay there for three days after his surgery. They give his morphine to numb the pain because the doctor was concerned about numbness and infection. By the end of Jack’s visit he is addicted to morphine. When he is back at home he craves morphine and turn to drinking Dwight’s alcohol. Dwight notices and gets into an argument with Jack. Jack talks back to him and Dwight pushes him. He falls over and lands on his finger. When Rosemary hears she is furious and says that it is the last straw. She sends Jack to live with Chuck Bolger’s family and plans on finding a job in Seattle so they can leave the terrible life they have. The Bolger’s reluctantly take him. When Jack leaves Dwight and him wish each other good luck. Pearl and Rosemary load up Chuck’s car. His mom and Pearl hug him goodbye. Dwight shakes Chuck and Jack’s hand and says goodbye. Everyone can sense that they hate other. Even though Jack doesn’t deal with Dwight anymore, Dwight’s voice stays with Jack. In the story, Jack claims that he hears Dwight’s voice when he yells at his children. Chuck and Jack begin drinking liquor in the back of the car. Response- Entry No. 8 Page 215 – Page 233- I’m so happy that Jack doesn’t have to deal with Dwight for now. Rosemary finally got a wake up call. I’m also happy that Jack got into a prep school because after all the rejections he finally got in.
It’s a shame that Jack had his finger injury because not only did it leave him in pain; it also got him addicted to morphine. Once he came back home he craved it and drank some of Dwight’s alcohol. I was scared for him when it happened because Dwight scares me. He is so unpredictable and he is crazy. As I suspected, Jack got in trouble with him and it ended in him making his finger condition worse. I don’t understand why Dwight shook his hand and wished him luck because if anything he jinxed it. They both hate each other and I felt it when they communicated with each other before parting their ways. Wolff uses sympathetic syntax when he said, “but I can always see Dwight’s face and hear his voice. I hear his voice in my own when I speak to my children in anger. They hear it too, and look at me in surprise. My youngest once said, “Don’t you love me anymore?”” (Wolff 232). The words that he uses convey deep emotion because it shows the impact Dwight had on him; he haunted him from his past. Sometimes people leave that impression on others, they haunt them to the point where they can’t sleep or to the point where they think of them when they do something. I have a bad feeling about Jack living with Chuck because even though Chuck is somewhat decent; he has a bad side as well. The moment Jack got into the car with him they started drinking which foreshadowed the beginning of a bad outcome. I think that Jack is going to do worse in school grade wise and behavior wise. Jack began drinking a while ago and I feel that he is going to be an addict.
This entry begins with Chuck getting drunk almost every night. Jack has to witness Chuck get violent with himself over, happy with himself, and go into silent rages. Every night he was doing something different, especially when he wasn’t drinking. Jack tries to calm him down, but he is never successful. He stops trying and he realizes that Chuck is disappointed with him. Jack gets along well with Chuck’s family and tries to follow their rules. However, Chuck never follows them and one night he and Jack sneak out to go to Veronica’s place to drink and play poker. Arch, Psycho, and Huff hang around there. Jack avoid the drinking and poker and watches the late show with Veronica. He deals with her ruining movies for him by telling him about the stars. On the way home, Chuck scares him by driving out of control and making a parody of his father’s sermons. Even though Chuck’s dad is a minister, he never pressures Jack into going to church with them. His family is well respected until one night Jack and Chuck empty gas out of a truck that belongs to a man named Mr. Welch. Just when they thought that they could get away with the Bolger’s find out about it the next day. They make Chuck and Jack return the gasoline and apologize to Mr. Welch. Chuck apologizes however, Jack doesn’t. When Mr. Bolger comes to back to check on them, Jack confesses about it and Mr. Bolger threatens to return him back to his home. Jack has to call his mom and Rosemary comes the next day. She begs that Jack stays and Mr. Bolger gives him one condition that he works on the Welch farm. Mr. Bolger asks the Welches but they reject the offer.
Disappointed, he decides to arrange Jack to meet Father Karl. When he meets him, he’s surprised that Father Karl didn’t give his sermon. According to Jack, Father Karl’s parent were Jewish and they both died in concentration camps. He barely survived himself which is why he converted to Christianity to become a minister. He asks him who Jack thinks he is and Jack answers bluntly. Jack promises him that he knows his problems. Both Mr. Bolger and Father Kurl make him feel disappointed but he gets over it. Chuck gets his fair share of the disappoint when the sheriff accuses him of statutory rape along with Huff and Psycho in the complaint. The complaint regarded Tina Flood who was a pregnant fifteen year old. Jack isn’t surprised about a pregnant girl in his school because the girls in his school are tramps. She isn’t sure who the father is, but she wants Chuck to marry her. If he marries her then he won’t go to jail. Huff, Psycho, and Mr. Bolger beg Chuck to do so. Chuck refuses and the sheriff arrests him for the time being, but he doesn’t go to prison. Huff marries Tina so they can end the rape accusations. After the rape storm is over, Jack gets a scholarship to Hill school securing his place there. Mr. Howard is pleased. Jack informs Rosemary and she is thrilled. She also has good news because she found a job at Aetna Insurance in Seattle. Jack’s father and Geoffrey arrange to meet with him over the summer. Rosemary discovers that Dwight spent all their money, but other than that she is happy. Response- Entry No. 9 Page 234- Page 265-Life in the Bolger house is interesting. I learned how abusive Chuck can be with himself, thank goodness that he didn’t abuse Jack. He teaches Jack to engage in many bad activities such as stealing gas. I’m glad that Chuck and Jack got what they deserved when the Welches found out about the gas. I don’t understand why Jack didn’t apologize, is it that hard for him? Mr. Bolger’s punishment was harsh, especially when he made Jack call his mom.
Rosemary had every right to beg them because she’ll do anything to make her son have a good life. She’s a good mother. It’s too bad that Mr.Welch won’t let Jack work on his farm, so instead he has to meet with Father Karl. Father Karl confused me, he made Jack feel from bad to worse. I understand that Father Karl had a hard life because he was Jewish and he lived to see the horrors of concentration camp life. However, the way he talked to Jack was heartless because he never cleared up any problems if anything he asked Jack what he wanted out of life. If someone asked me that I wouldn’t know how to answer because it’s a hard question to answer. After that hard time ended another one came when Chuck was accused of rape. Personally, I was disgusted by the whole situation because it shows how far people will go these days. I wish her and Huff all the best and I bet that he is not the father. Despite those challenges, I was happy for Jack when he won a scholarship to Hill School, I wish that I would be that lucky sometime in my high school career. I was happy when Rosemary found a job, she deserved it and good for her. It sounds like everything is working out for Jack and I hope that it will continue. Just as I suspected Dwight spent all their money; Jack and Rosemary worked so hard to make that money just to see him spend all of it. I longer trust Dwight. THIS BOY’S LIFE: A MEMOIR RRJ TYPED FORMATCAROLINE SIPPERTHIRD ENTRYSummary- Entry No. 10 Page 266-Page 288- This entry begins with Rosemary leaving Chinook and leaving Pearl heartbroken. Pearl and Jack are becoming good friends now. Jack feels bad and invites Pearl have lunch with him. During lunch Pearl reveals that Dwight plans on going to Seattle to get back together with Rosemary and that he was going to bring Pearl for extra ammunition. Jack did not like the sound of this. After Dwight and Pearl depart for Seattle, Chuck and Jack break into their house. They examine the place and Jack makes himself a peanut butter sandwich while flipping light switches throughout the house. He sees his old room and reads Pearl’s diary. The boys steal Dwight’s guns, knifes, tooled leather scabbard, and binoculars. Chuck hides the items in the trunk of his car. The boys get away with it before Mr. Bolger can suspect anything.
Later that week Jack meets up with Mr. and Mrs. Howard at the tailors for his new school wardrobe. The couple praises Jack making him feel loved, something he has never felt before. Once again, Mr. Howard reminds Jack how difficult Hill School is, but Jack reminds him that he can handle it. At the tailor shop, three men help out Jack with his wardrobe. One of the tailors, Franz helps them out and measures Jack for his uniforms. Jack spends the day walking in and out of changing rooms. Afterward, they leave with a pile of clothes for both warm and cold weather alike as well as for sports. Jack departs the shop and goes to three pawn shops in search of one that will buy the items he stole. The first two disregard him and the last one disrespects him. The last one offers him sixty dollars and he accepts. He leaves with her slamming the door and him dropping the pawn tickets into the gutter. Jack arrives to California only to find out that his father left to Las Vegas. He left Jack with keys to a Pontiac and money for grocery shopping. His father arranges a caretaker for him that turns out to be a pedophile. One day, Jack wakes up to him harassing him so he calls his dad. His dad tells him to shoot him with his. 223 Air Force Survival Rifle. He fears that he has to use it on him, but he never does. Geoffrey and his dad return home, their father is arrested and has spend the entire summer in a Sanitarium. According to the police, his dad suffered from a major breakdown. Rosemary and Dwight’s problems increase.
At one point he tries to strangle her and Jack gets him arrested. According to Jack it was his last sight of Dwight. Jack failed his years at Hill. His teacher’s think that he is too lazy and ignorant. Unfortunately, he and his best friend get kicked out of the school and Jack joins the army. He leaves for California to join his father and brother, his mother joins them later. As the story concludes, Jack remember Chuck and all the problems he got through. He and Chuck end the story with them both singing “I Walk to the Garden Alone” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” They sing as if they have been saved. Response- Entry No. 10 Page 266-Page 288-I loved this story and I think that it is the easiest book I’ve read out of Metamorphosis and Moby Dick. The ending of this book proves that everything does workout. I don’t understand why Jack felt the need to steal some of Dwight’s belongings. At least he got away with it, I know that I wouldn’t. I felt bad for Jack when he went to see his father and brother. I thought that it was a shame that his father had a mental breakdown resulting in him being sent to an institution. It’s also too bad that Jack had to deal with a pedofile, I thought that he was going to do something to Jack. However he didn’t and I’m glad that Jack didn’t have to use the gun on him. I felt for Rosemary. When Pearl told Jack that Dwight was going to convince Rosemary to get back together with him, I laughed a little because I thought that Rosemary was smarter than that. I can’t believe that she came back to him and payed for it with Dwight strangling her. I don’t understand as to how he could be so crazy. I’m glad that Jack got him sent to prison. Words could not explain how happy I was when Dwight got arrested, it was long overdue. In the story I could tell that Jack had been waiting for that moment for a long time, I know I was. He had no right to treat Rosemary the way he did. I bet that he got sent to a mental institution for his crime. I’m glad that Jack never had to deal with him again, he only exists in Jack’s memory.
Apparently, Jack didn’t heed Mr. Howard’s warning and he ended up failing to the point where he dropped out. However, Jack made it through life and lived to tell this unforgettable story. According to Britannica, This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff, the theme of the story deals with identity because throughout the story Jack questions his sense of belonging. Ever since the beginning, Jack befriended many people only to dump them and never speak of them again. If I were in his shoes, I’d feel the same way because if you notice how many fathers Jack had throughout his life it would make one question themself. Jack has never had a father figure in his life because they all abused him. Sons usually look up to their fathers because they are role models. However, if you look at the case of Jack I’d be ashamed of his fathers. How can you look up to someone who abuses you? You can’t which is why Jack committed many bad crimes.
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