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"Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 801 words Published: 4th Sep 2017

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Short Response to “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff

My initial thought of this reading was that the title would be some metaphor for something else that happens. The story was short and straight to the point. It starts off with a man in a bank waiting, he has to wait in a long line due to going right before it closes. Anders starts off by seeming like a very irritable guy. Immediately he is annoyed with the two when in front of him. They are just complaining about everything. This is where we first see a sense of who Anders is. Two masked men come in to the bank making an attempt to rob it. Anders irritable attitude gets him in trouble a he starts making snide comments to the annoying lady in front of him. One of the men hears him. The man repeatedly tells Anders to be quite, but Anders does not listen. The man shoots Anders in the head, and then he his brain reflects on a distant memory. One from long ago that had much been forgotten. It recalls on a summer when Anders was out playing baseball with him friends. One friend brings a cousin who wants to play as well. When they ask him what position he wants to play he say short stop because “..That’s the best they is.” Anders is shocked by what this boy has said, but it stays in his mind for the rest of the game.

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Memory is what builds this story. It is also what keeps this story going. We first start off with the scene of him in the bank, but eventually more to his recollection of a particular event in his life. Surprisingly he does not remember his first love, his daughter, or his wife. He remembers a time long ago playing baseball with friends. The memory is not one that you would expect from the first character we meet. Initially Anders is irritable and rude. Due to the use of memory in this story we see that Anders is not all bad. He once loved his job as a book critic, but the longer he did this the less he grew to like it. The actual memory that Anders draws on makes me think that this may have pushed him into the direction of being an editor. He remembers a friends cousin say “That’s the best they is”, he did not stop to fix his grammar but replayed what this boy said in his head. After being shot he plays a distant memory, but to him this is one that was really good for him.

Anders memory definitely redeems him. My first thought of Anders is that I don’t like him. He just does not seem like the type of person you would want to be around. On top of this, he is provoking one of the robbers. This memory takes us back to a time where Anders was happy. A young boy playing baseball with his friends. It shows us that Anders has not always been and irritable jerk, but a kind person. Someone who is accepting of you no matter.

Due to circumstances throughout his life, Anders became a completely different person from that boy on the baseball field that day. Memory gives us a big look into his life, who he is and what he loves (or doesn’t love).


Memory and Identity

The formation of identity comes from the World around you. I believe that your identity is formed based off of your family and environment. We learn morals and rules based off what our parents believe are good morals and rules to have. Each parenting style is different. I have always had more lenient parents while others have parents that can be pretty strict. This formed my identity. I never had to lie to do the things that I wanted. I would always tell my parents, and I knew that if they ever said no what I wanted to do probably wasn’t a good idea. I would accept this and move on.

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Identity does not just come from your parents or your family, but from the places you visit frequently. You don’t really form you identity until you are older. I am twenty, and still feel as if I am forming my identity. I often times ask myself “Who is Kaylee Strahl?” Who do I want to be? As we go to school we start to get a sense of our identity from a different perspective. We will be similar to the people we interact with frequently. I went to a really small school, this formed my identity in a different way. All of the people I graduated had a similar mind set. If you played sports or danced or other things like this. This also plays part in forming your identity.

Memory and identity are similar because one has to build off the other. In order to form your identity we base it off the things that have happened in the past, our memory. Memory helps to shape us into the person that we eventually become. If there have been traumatic events in your life, your identity can change based off of that memory.


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