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Why this story?Written by Tobias Wolff,’Bullet in the Brain’ is a story that captivated me with its eloquence and its expressiveness. Anders, the main character, finds flaws and fault in all things. This ignorant man winds up getting shot in the head, due to him not grasping the seriousness of the situation and this made him a good character to analyze. Once in the brain . . . the bullet came under the mediation of brain time . . . .” “It is worth noting what Anders did not remember, given what he did remember…” (Wolff, 1995). Flat and Round CharactersAnders can best be described as a round character. You know what he thinks and how he speaks, especially of those around him, “Anders had conceived his own towering hatred of the teller, but he immediately turned it on the presumptuous crybaby in front of him. “Damned unfair,” he said.” (Wolff, 1995). You also know his occupation and how he critiques everything and everyone, “… a book critic known for the weary, elegant savagery with which he dispatched almost everything he reviewed.” (Wolff, 1995).The flat characters described here would be the bank robbers. We know absolutely nothing about them other than the fact that they are the antagonists, and one of them eventually shoots Anders. Static and Dynamic Characters Anders is a static character. He does not evolve throughout the story. At the beginning we see into his narcissistic and analytical ways “…he got stuck behind two women whose loud, stupid conversation put him in a murderous temper…” (Wolff, 1995) Even with a gun pointed at him, actually staring death right in the face, Anders’s haughty attitude was unwavering and we see this when the gunman threatened him and his refusal of acknowledging that his life might very well be on the line. “No,” Anders said, but the barrel tickled like a stiff finger and he had to fight back the titters…The man’s left eyelid kept twitching… he was beginning to develop a sense of unease when the man prodded him again with the pistol…The bull wore a smirk and his eyebrows were arched. If there’d been a bubble coming out of his mouth, it would have said, “Hubba hubba.”  (Wolff, 1995) There are no dynamic characters described in this story, although during his final moments we cannot help but empathise with the protagonist as he recalls memories from his past that shows us another side of him. How he does not remember the disappointments in love, disappointments in family relationships, the mounting “boredom and dread” of his work, but also “the pleasure of giving respect.” What he does remember goes back to an earlier, more carefree time, those dreamy summer days of baseball with neighborhood boys, when a visiting child’s musical southern accent charmed and elated him. (Nast, 2005)Direct and Indirect CharacterizationBullet in the Brain, is filled with indirect characterization an example of this is found at the beginning of the story. “…he got stuck behind two women whose loud, stupid conversation put him in a murderous temper. He was never in the best of tempers anyway…”(Wolff, 1995) This shows that he was very impatient and condescending. “…whom he had also loved before she exhausted him with her predictability…” (Wolff, 1995) Here he speaks of his wife, whom he loved at one point but got bored with the routine of it all. The story is also filled with indirect characterization for instance, “… he did not remember deliberately crashing his father’s car into a tree…” (Wolff, 1995) although the story did not say directly that him and his father were on bad terms,  we can infer by the message we get from this text. “…time for the boy in right field to smack his sweat-blackened mitt and softly chant, They is, they is, they is.” (Wolff, 1995). The phrase “they is” definitely plays a role in Anders’ thoughts about happiness. The reason that Anders enjoys the phrase “they is” so much is because of how wrong it is. He laughs at cliches, like “capiche,” and is appalled at himself when he uses others, namely “passed before his eyes.” By ending the story with the repetition of “they is” the author draws a conclusion to who Anders is and how he came to be the pompous, cynical critic. (Klein, 2016)

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