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Essay/Term paper: "self-discovery through adversity"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Papers

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A self-discovery is the act or process achieving self-knowledge. In the short stories, "A Small, Good Thing" by John Updike and "The Rich Brother" by Tobias Wolff, self-discoveries took place with Ann and Peter. Ann was a mother of one and a wife. Peter was a husband and a real estate agent. In the end both Ann and Peter come to a self-discovery.

Ann Weiss, from "A Small, Good Thing", discovered how much she cared for her son. How she would do anything to get him back. After the death of her son the Baker put her over the top. The phone calls that he would make were not called for at all. Ann was very unstable and she was about to blow at any second. When they got to the Bakers she went off on him. Her son is dead and she is just going to have to move on with her life. Peter, from "The Rich Brother", discovered that no matter what his brother did he really did love him. Donald, Peter"s brother, would always come to Peter for help. Donald never had any money. Every time Donald would need a place to stay Peter would let him stay at his house that he worked so hard to get. Ann and Peter, both came to a self-discovery in their life.

There are some similarities between the self-discoveries of Ann and Peter. One similarity was how much love they had for their respective family. Ann being a mother she loved her son so much. She spent all of her time at the hospital wait for her son to wake up. She only went home once during the three days her son was in a comma. Peter did love his brother Donald. Peter always gave Donald money and let him stay at his house that he had worked so hard for. Donald went off to live at a farm. When he needed a place to stay because he was kicked off the farm, Pete said, "I guess you"ll have to stay with us." Then Pete said, "I"ll come get you"(Wolff 67). He knew that Donald would hitch hike home if he sent him money for a bus fare. So Pete picked him up. They also differ with each other. For example, Ann has always loved her son on the other hand Pete at one point tried to kill Donald. When they were younger he would hit Donald in the stomach right were hit stitches were. Yet another difference between the characters is the fact that Ann was getting the calls from the Baker. The phone does not mean anything to Peter. Ann and Peter both discover how much they love a family member.

In both of the stories cars where very significant. With Ann a car hit her son which put him in the hospital. Peter loved his new car and that is where most of the story takes place. Pete is just picking up Donald at Jonathan"s Mechanical Emporium. Donald asks Pete for some money. Pete gives him 100 dollars. Donald buys two sodas. Donald spills his soda all over the front seat before they even leave the gas station. Pete said, "Wipe it up, Quick!" Later he said, "These seats are leather… I do not see why I can not have leather seats that smell like leather instead of orange pop." Another similarity between both of the stories there was a significant other that also cared. Ann had her husband. He was with her the whole time as their son was dying. Peter had his wife. In his head as he was driving away from Donald he hears his wife say, "Where is he? Where is your brother?" That is what makes him go and get his brother. Peter"s self-discovery took the time from when he dropped off Donald till he hears his wife"s words. Ann"s took about three days. Their self-discoveries were both short. The baker made phone calls while Peter got a letter from the head of the farm Donald was at. The baker would call Ann house saying, "There"s a cake here… A cake, A sixteen dollar cake." The letter that Peter got said that Donald was kicked out of the farm he did not quit. In contrast Peter had a home with a boat and it was not really talked about. It was just a short blurb in the beginning of the story. It said that Peter had two daughters, with a sailboat and a house. Where the hospital Ann was at was described with great detail. It would talk about the hospital so much because that is where most of the story took place.

Peter left Donald on the side of the road he comes to the self-discovery that he really loves his brother. We are lead to believe that he goes back and picks up Donald and brings him home. Ann discovers that the more time she spends with the Baker the less she wants to kill him. When she first got to the bakery, she said, "I want to kill you. I want you dead." She was not happy about the phone calls that the Baker had made. Then there was an unexpected change, by the end of the story Ann was eating fresh rolls with the person only like an hour ago she wanted to kill. This leads me to the self-discovery that food heals all wounds. After they ate the food they were beginning the process of getting over their son"s death.

In conclusion the self-discoveries that took place in the short stories helped the character come to a self-realization of what people meant to them. Even with the characters being different sexes there still were many similarities, on the other hand there were also plenty of differences. The basic process of self-discovery with these characters took a short amount of time. In general a self-discovery is a turning point in ones life.


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