Theme of Insecurity in This Boys Life by Tobias Wolff

Paper Type: 
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1394 Words
Date:  2021-03-01

Even with it being that differences subsist in varied families all across the universe, the fact remains that individuals always desire to attain a sense of belonging by being part of a community or a family unit. Individuals would consider themselves to have enjoyed a sense of belonging even if that meant staying connected to close friends they encountered in their lives. The family unit should be a platform from which individuals are able to encounter risks, learn more about who they truly are and learn more about other members of their society, most of all, the family unit acts as a foundation that enables persons to grow and develop. Other than meeting the basic needs of persons in the society, the family unit assists people in attaining a sense of belonging in the society (Barillaro 19). It is beyond any doubt that for people to develop better relationships with other members of their societies they must have enjoyed a mutual association with their caregivers during their childhood stages of life. If individuals failed to enjoy a cordial relationship with members of their family more so their parents, such persons encountered serious lifelong repercussions in creating viable relationships with other members of their society. In the case of Toby, his family does not serve as a safe haven due to increased incidences of family squabbles and violence.

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For all children, the family unit is always a solid and safe ground for persons to grow and develop into their adult stages of life. However, a childs proper growth and development within the family unit is usually tampered with if it happens that domestic violence characterizes an individuals home like in the case of Toby. Toby is brought up within an unstable family because of the rift that is created within his family. This is evident from the actuality that Tobys elder brother pursued a luxurious lifestyle while living with their father while Toby was left with his mother who struggled to ascertain to the verity that she provided for her own needs and the needs of her son Toby (Barillaro 19). Nevertheless, due to the difficulties faced by Tobys mother, Rosemary, she finds it very difficult to remain present at all times for her son most of all when he needed her most. Surprisingly, Toby still holds onto his mother as his mentor and sole provider while forgetting all the periods that she failed to show up to aid him maneuver through his troubles. Whenever Rosemary felt like she no longer needed Toby by her side she left him on his own only to entice him with minor gifts at a time that she felt like being in the company of her son. As witnessed from the manner in which Toby related with his mother it could be deduced that they had a dysfunctional kind of relationship.

The most fascinating thing about this story is seen in the way Toby strives to find acceptance in his society even with the drawbacks that he faced in his attempts to do so. Toby struggles to formulate viable relationships even with the people who subject him through physical and emotional abuse whenever they saw fit such as Dwight. Consequentially, Toby insistently creates mental pictures of how it would feel like if it happened that he was part of the families in which children felt cared for in life (Barillaro 19). In line within this, Toby even develops the thought of eloping from his family and finding a new family in which he would enjoy certain aspects of life that he did not seem to enjoy in his own family such as love and care. However, Toby ends up with different kind of family, the troublemakers. These friends pretended to care for Toby only to lure him into practices that subjected Toby into trouble.

Tobias witnesses great domestic violence in his family, which are incidents that occur on a consistent basis within his family. At times, he is even forced to take part in the acts of violence without desiring to do so. Increased violence within families always makes life more stressful, oppressive and insecure. On the same note, within such families there is always the lack of trust between members of the family. Presently, individuals within different states are more devoted to the need to guard children and women from different kinds of abuse within the family unit. However, during the period that this story was jotted down, members of the afflicted families kept incidences of violence that occurred within the family unit a secret. Individuals regarded it a shame to disclose the quarrels that they witnessed within their families to other members of their societies (Barillaro 20). In cases whereby individuals suspected that something was amiss within a family, they pretended that all was well even if everything that went on within a given family horrified them. Protective services for the less privileged members of the society such as women and children were minimal. This was because during the time this story was created the guiding principles that were majorly used were patriarchal in nature.

Because of the insecurities that Toby experienced in his life as was witnessed through the violence he witnessed in his family and incidences of maltreated from the persons he, least expected such as his closest friend Dwight Toby is forced to find an escape point. For the greatest part of the story, Toby uses his imagination as a means of escaping his troubles or as a point of refuge. During his period of stay in Chinook Toby wanted nothing more than to escape from the shackles of Dwight who maltreated him (Barillaro 20). Similarly, Toby wished to escape from the perceptions that individuals had developed about him in his area of residence. However, Tobys attempts to escape from his troubles turn out to be less successful. Consequently, Toby decides that the only way that he could escape from his troubles was by imagining a better life for him even with the problems that he came across. For instance, when he failed to travel to Paris as he had hoped he imagines himself in the midst of the natives of Paris while enjoying all the luxurious provisions that are part of the city of Paris. Through his imagination of a better life, Toby is able to avert the miseries of his home life. The fantasies help Toby to endure the troubles that he encountered in undergoing his daily life activities.

Toby feels insecure in life to the extent that he indulges in deceit in order to survive in his society. For one, he forges letters that were meant for his caregivers by writing how he elicited better progress in school even within his poor performance in academics. In this regard, he stays convinced that he was of the same standards as other students within his class who performed exceptionally in their academics (Barillaro 20). In this way, he was able to reduce the miseries that he encountered in life. to add onto this, during his stay with Dwight, Toby yearns for an opportunity to escape from home not only because of the unhappy life that he led in Dwights care but because of his desire to find a life in which he was not regarded as a thief and a liar. Toby did not believe that he was the liar and the thief that Dwight believed him to be. He believed that he was well mannered and kindhearted and that he was only pushed by circumstances to do everything within his reach to escape from his troubles.

Tobys mother also elicits feelings of insecurity. This was after she was separated from her husband, Tobys father. Rosemary felt like she could no longer cater for the needs of her family let alone her own needs (Barillaro 20). It is precisely for such reasons and more that she opts for the option of neglecting her own son Toby with the hope that he would be able to find a better life without her being by his side to help him through the troubles of life. From the incidents of this story, it was clear that Tobys mother was afraid of assuming responsibility as a parent. She failed to provide the love and care that Toby desired.

Work Cited

Barillaro, A. This Boys Life. Teacher text guides & worksheets. Radiant heart publishing, 2013. pp.1-32.

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Theme of Insecurity in This Boys Life by Tobias Wolff. (2021, Mar 01). Retrieved from

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