Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How is Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life related to other American narratives about childhood, such as Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)?

How does Wolff develop themes of friendship and the betrayal of friendship?

In what ways does Wolff explore the theme of conformity versus rebellion?

Many of Wolff’s characters tell lies. What is the moral status of lying in his work?

Wolff’s short stories have sometimes been called “realistic” or “minimalist.” Are these useful terms for describing his work?