John Edgar Wideman's Our Time

             How do you tell a story of a boy who was raised right but .

             turned out wrong? Do you focus on key events during the course of his .

             life, or do you examine his life in sequence from birth? In his .

             compelling essay "Our Time”, John Edgar Wideman has the .

             responsibility of telling the story of the boy who turned out wrong. .

             The boy is Widman's younger brother and black sheep of the family .

             Robby. Wideman uses three voices and three events to tell his brother .

             Robby's story. The three voices that Wideman brings into his essay to .

             help his readers understand why his brother "went bad” are the voices .

             of his brother Robby, his mother, and himself. The three events that .

             Wideman mingles into his essay to help himself come to an .

             understanding of his brother and the troubles that plagued him are .

             the tragic death of Robby's best friend Garth, the family's move to .

             Shadyshide, (A predominant white neighborhood) and the time of .

             Robby's birth. Why does Wideman present the three events the way he .

             does? Is he trying to single out the event that caused Robby's .

             downfall? Each event has an effect on Robby; an effect that would .

             steer him towards drugs, crime, and involvement in a murder that .

             would mean a life sentence in prison. Did Robby have bad luck? .

             Imagine rolling the dice and seeing snake eyes come up or landing on .

             the chance spot on the Monopoly board and picking up that little .

             orange card and reading, Do not pass Go.Do not collect two hundred .

             dollars.Go Straight to Jail. No, it wasn't bad luck; it started with .

             Garth's death. .

             During a visit to the prison Robby reassembles Garth's death to .

             his brother, "Something had crawled inside Garth's belly. The man .

             said it wasn't nothing. Sold him some aspirins and said he'd be all .

             right in no time. The man killed Garth”(656). Garth died of a .

             mysterious disease in the summer of 1975. The tragedy of his best .

             friend hit Robby like a heavyweight slap in the face.

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