Dr. Leila Walker
Due: June 11, 2018
Close Reading of “Bullet In The Brain”
In “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff, Wolff introduces the main character Anders, a rude and sarcastic book critic known for the weary, elegant savagery he dispatches on everything. Wolff also tells the readers that Anders was at a bank just before it’s closing time, when a bank robbery occurred. Although Anders doesn’t change much throughout the story, but through Wolff’s use of literary devices, the reader’s perspective of him does change.
One of the literary devices that Wolff used was tone. Anders’ sarcasm can be seen as one of the most apparent traint in the story, as he mocks the ladies in front of him and criticizing everything in his surrounding. As Wolff mentions in the story the reaction Anders show to robbers in the bank, “‘Oh, Bravo,’ Anders said. ‘Dead Meat.’ He turned to the woman in front of him, ‘Great Script, eh? The stern, brass-knuckled poetry of the dangerous classes.’” This clearly shows the comedic nature of Anders as he he did not care for his life. However, this all quickly changed when Anders was shot in the head. Gone are sarcastic jokes as we read through the flashbacks, and suddenly the tone became serious.
Another literary device Wolff used was the narrative perspective. The entire story was told through the third person perspective. However, when we compare the first half of the story up to the point when Anders was shot in the head to the rest of the story, there is a clear change in perspective. Although it was in the third person perspective, the readers felt much closer to Anders. For example, Wolff uses imagery in the story to help the readers understand what Anders’ was experiencing. He narrates the story with such passion it made the readers experience everything happening in the story like watching a movie. In the story, Wolff emphasizes a lot on Anders habit of criticizing the things around him like when he was staring at the ceiling of the bank. Wolff states “Now he had no choice but to scrutinize the painter’s work. It was even worse than he remembered…”, it shows Anders internal need to criticize other people’s work. In another instance, “Anders burst out laughing. He covered his mouth with both hands… then snorted hopelessly through his finger…” This was the Anders’ last moment before he was shot, and up to this point, Wolff had clearly described Anders’ feelings, movements, and thoughts, as if the story was told through a first person point of view. However, after he was...