“Powder” by Tobias Wolff Analysis

This fictional passage defines the meaning of “living in the moment”. Wolff uses a young, controlling, conservative boy to contrast with his bold and seemingly fearless father. The son, “was a boy who kept his clothes on numbered hangers to insure proper rotation. [He] bothered [his] teachers for homework assignments far ahead of their due dates so [he] could draw up schedules” (Wolff). His father on the other hand snuck his son into a bar to see Thelonius Monk, without his wife’s permission. The narrator speaks of one specific event with much detail to show how the event has completely changed his mindset. His parents were going to split up, no matter how hard his father tried to keep him safe. This affected the son, which probably showed through his obsessive and controlling habits. However, he looked up to his father as a model of enjoying life to the fullest. His father was rebellious in many ways, such as taking a minor to a bar, or entering a forbidden zone blocked by officers during a snow storm. However, his father was a good model of protection towards his son. Even though he entered a police-blocked path, he warned his son not to follow his actions. He only did that to keep the promise he made to his mother.  This gave the narrator a new outlook on life. He finally relaxed and let go of his worries, by trusting his father while he was driving. He ends with a quote to show his new perspective, “Except maybe to say this: if you haven’t driven on fresh powder, you haven’t driven” (Wolff).

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4 thoughts on ““Powder” by Tobias Wolff Analysis

  1. I agree that this narrative does have the lesson of “living in the moment.” I really like how you relate the boy’s parents’ separation to why he is so obsessive and controlling. And the father does try as hard as he can to make his son happy and safe, all while having a good time, and the son knows this. But his father’s rebellious ways most likely do also contribute to his son’s worried tendencies. But by the end the son does learn to trust his father more and relax a little.

  2. I like the examples you used to describe the characters. You did a great job contrasting the father and the son. I agree with your statement that the father became a symbol of living life to the fullest to the son.

  3. I also think that the meaning of this narrative was to “live in the moment”. I thought the story the author chose to write really showed the importance of this.The boy really looked up to his father even though he was rebellious. I liked how the two were total opposites and in the end the father taught the boy to relax and enjoy life.

  4. I agree that the father gave the son a new outlook on life. I think he taught him not to be so conservative and stick to such a schedule and just do things that would be exciting. Try new things and do them in a spur of the moment type of way.

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