writing assignment 2

by pthomson025

Pat Thomson

English 101

Mr. Boyd


Writing Assignment 2

            People like to hide behind a shadow and not show what really is in front of them. They do not like to show their true colors, they act like something that they are not. There are many judgmental people in the world, which cause people to put on an act. I know many people who try to act like something they are not. Personally I try not too but I can admit sometimes I have to. A few of the authors that we have read about this semester try to hide the person they really are. Gerald Graff, and Tobias Wolff wrote about how they tried to be something they were not. How on the inside they were one person but on the outside they were completely fake and different just to impress others.

            Tobias Wolff wrote his memoir called This Boys Life. As a little kid he had trouble fitting in. His family was built so strong so that definitely had an affect on the way he acted and behaved. Tobias was always defiant; he knew he could easily take advantage of his mother. For instance when they go to leave Seattle he tries to bring his rifle, and his mother demands that he not, that there is not enough room for it anyway. “And before she could stop me I had unscrewed the locking bolt and pulled the rifle apart….. and slid the two halves of the rifle in between the clothes” (32). Of course Wolff being the character he is, he does not listen to his mother and does the exact opposite of what she says. Another example of Wolff trying to show off and be something he is not was when he started stuff with Arthur. Arthur was always bullied and Wolff wanted to show he was “cool” so he started to bully Arthur. “We went on like this, and then I called him a sissy” (109). Arthur and Wolf had been going back and forth but the minute he called Arthur a sissy, all hell broke lose. They touched gloves and the match began. Wolff had to show that he was tough so he started a fight with Arthur to fit in. Throughout the book, Wolff tries to show and act like somebody that he is not. Almost like he has a mask covering the real Tobias Wolff.

            Personally I try to be the person I am. I do not want to be fake, and do things I normally would not do. One of my biggest pet peeves is fake people. They make me angry. Why try and be someone your not? You should embrace the way you are and show it. Do not let other people’s judgments get to your head. You should let people shape the way you are. I’ll admit that yes, sometimes I can be fake and I care what people think but I try not to. If you want to dress up in a costume everyday then do not let people stop you. You are your own person and you should enjoy everything that you do.

            We read Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff. Graff was in similar shoes that Wolf was. He tried to hide and be something he was not. Graff never wanted to be referred to as the bookworm, hence the title Hidden Intellectualism. He always was intelligent but he has to hide it. He does not want his buddies to know that he is smart and has a brain. In his culture its almost frowned upon. The kids who are bookworms are considered losers. “For girls, being articulate and brainy about schoolwork was a sign of being conceited or ‘stuck up,’ whereas for boys it marked one as a sissy” (215).  No boy wants to be called a sissy. If you are referred to as a sissy, your headed down a long path. Nobody wants to be referred to as a sissy, so the way Graff escaped this was by hiding his intellectualism. Graff needed a group of friends a group that would accept him so how could he be smart and be accepted at the same time? “On the other hand, I was desperate for the approval of the hoods, whom I encountered daily on the playing field and in the neighborhood, and for the purpose it was not at all good to be book smart” (216). Graff had to keep his smarts away from his friends, he could not be known as the smart one, at least not if he wanted to maintain friends with them. 

            The two authors both have their own personal stories behind hiding behind a mask. They were more about fitting in and making friends then showing their true talents. Both Wolff and Graff would rather do things to impress then to do the right thing. Wolff was all about fitting in so he did whatever he had to too do so. Whether that be bullying someone or steal gasoline from his friends dads farm. I feel like he was insecure inside and was fighting it from a really young age. Graff also wanted to fit in he did not want to be known as a sissy or a loser. In order to do that he had to hide his intellectualism and act like he was not a smart guy. His hood would not accept him if they knew about his brainpower. He put on an act and kept it from his group. Wolff and Graff both managed to do this successfully. I do not believe it was the right thing to do but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. We all make those decisions.



Works Cited

Graff, Gerald. “Clueless in Academic: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind.”       New Haven: Yale U.P., 2003. Print.

Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir. Broadway: Grove, 1989. Print.