Tobias Wolff, "That Room"

A high school kid is proud of his first real adult job baling hay.

(from Our Story Begins)

Our older narrator knows things that he, as the young protagonist, was still to green to figure out. This takes a steady hand, storytelling-wise, and of course Wolff has that. I particularly enjoyed the way the narrative screeched to a halt for a detour into something more poetic and far-reaching. This story reminded me of Paul F. Tompkins rant on how people who go berry picking are ripping off his idea for a migrant worker fantasy camp. It’s really funny, and thematically similar to “That Room” in that there are the people for whom the job is necessary and people who need it. It’s a story about understanding privilege.

One thought on “Tobias Wolff, "That Room"

  1. Anonymous

    i don’t think its about understanding privilege at all. i think its about growing up and being accountable for your choices. Wolff calls Clemson an “inexperienced kid” but when he bully’s Clemson into going in that room for a drink, and Wolff ends up in trouble, He becomes just as, if not more so an inexperienced kid than when he first started working on the farm.


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