Masterplots II: Nonfiction Series Brothers and Keepers Analysis
The first section of Brothers and Keepers, “Visits,” focuses largely on Wideman’s alienation from his brother Robby and the Homewood community. Wideman’s visits to Robby and the community have been infrequent, and when he has visited, he has not really tried to communicate with Robby. He knows Robby only superficially. It is up to him to break out of his world of alienation and develop a better knowledge of Robby and the Homewood community Robby represents.
Most of the second section, “Our Time,” depicts Wideman’s struggle and agonizing growth as he focuses outside himself on Robby’s life and develops an understanding of his brother. One technique Wideman uses to capture this process is to tell the story with Robby’s words, projecting reality through Robby’s eyes. Robby’s voice first takes over the narrative approximately one-third of the way through “Our Time,” and Robby’s voice and Wideman’s voice alternate until the end of the section. This imaginative projection into Robby’s life makes him empathize with Robby as he has never done before.
Sometimes as Wideman listens to Robby talk, he finds himself drifting back into his own inner world, where he is isolated from Robby and secure within his own comforting images of himself. A striking example of this is Wideman’s description of his imagination isolating him from Robby’s reality as Robby describes his tortuous experience in the prison’s...
(The entire section is 1428 words.)
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