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Argument Analysis of “the Rich Brother”

In: English and Literature

Submitted By johnceesmith
Words 1368
Pages 6
As one reads Tobias Wolff’s “The Rich Brother,” it is clear to see that the two main characters have very different outlooks on life. Pete, the older brother, is financially stable and is always striving for a better life. Donald, on the other hand, is lackadaisical and depends on others to help him through all of life’s predicaments. Some may argue that Pete is the problem out of the two brothers. It could be perceived that he is selfish, mean, uncaring, and he is ultimately living an unfulfilled life. The story shows the opposite. “The Rich Brother” clearly details how Pete is a caring and loving big brother to Donald, and that Donald is actually a selfish person towards Pete.
One could make the argument that Donald should be pitied for his the circumstance that he has endured for years. He has been through a lot of failures over the years, but somehow the undertone of his mishaps are all related to him attempting to help other to succeed. In one statement made by Donald, it is apparent that Pete was babied or coddled by his mother. “Mom was always in a state about me climbing trees and so on. And you used to hit me there every chance you got.” (Qtd. in Arguing about Literature 264) As Donald continues his story about how Pete would attempt to kill him, the reader starts to see that Donald is over exaggerating the childhood situation. Donald tells a story that should be very memorable to Pete, but to the contrary, Pete seems legitimately boggled by the recollection. He admits that he may have done some “big brother” type things to Donald, but he comes across as genuinely stunned by his younger brother’s story. This one conversation speaks volumes to the integrity of the two brothers. If one is not objective, it could be easy to mislabel the two brothers. The thought of Donald deserving pity and that Pete is mean goes out the window with this one statement.

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