full title · This Boy's Life
author · Tobias Wolff
genre · Memoir
language · English
time and place written · mid to late 1980s, New York
date of first publication · 1989
publisher · The Atlantic Monthly Press
narrator · Toby "Jack" Wolff
point of view · The narrator speaks in the first person, and creates an entirely subjective description of characters and events, frequently expressing personal judgment and bias.
tone · Jack's narration is consistently subjective and is often informal by means of colloquialisms, slang, and humor.
tense · Distant past; Jack is describing his childhood and adolescence as a middle-aged adult
setting (time) · A period of about ten years from 1955 to 1965.
setting (place) · The story begins en route from Florida to Utah, then moves to Washington state, first to Seattle, and then to Chinook.
protagonist · Toby "Jack" Wolff
major conflict · Jack continually struggles against Dwight's cruelty.
rising action · Jack is accepted to the Hill School and plans to leave Chinook in the fall; he begins to stand up for himself to Dwight
climax · Dwight injures Jack over an empty jar of mustard, and Rosemary decides that Jack will move out, and that she will finally leave Dwight.
falling action · Jack stays with Chuck Bolger and his family and readies himself for school at Hill.
themes · Escapism via Imagination; Desire and Desperation for Self-recreation; Promises Made, Promises Broken
motifs · Betrayal; Guilt and Self-loathing; White Paint
symbols · Jack's Winchester .22 Rifle; Dying Salmon; Moldy Beaver
foreshadowing · Jack's exaggerated portrayals of himself in his letters to Alice and Annette foretell his continuous and profound desire to use writing to transcend his circumstances.