Tobias Wolff’s” story On Being a Real Westerner is a wonderful short story wrapped with intriguing thoughts found within any young boy wanting to become a man. Wolff does a wonderful job of portraying the pre-adolescent psych of himself at the age of ten, and uses this portrayal to explain a brief moment in his life which was very important to his “growing up”.
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In the first few paragraphs of this story, Wolff explains his great passion for a rifle which was owned by his mothers” boyfriend Roy. Wolff explains how obtaining this rifle was the first step to a process which he labeled as “being a real westerner”. Wolff proceeds to explicate his deep passion for this rifle and the sorrow he felt when it was taken back so soon after being given to him. However, he soon regained possession of the rifle after making a promise to his mother to never touch the rifle when herself and Roy were not present. Well, as we all know, a promise such as that with an item such as the rifle really isn’t worth all that much to a young man of Wolff’s age. Soon Wolff begins taking the rifle out of its case when his mother and Roy are not at home to just clean it. But soon this turns into other things such as striking poses and pretending to be a member of the armed forces, all things not too healthy for a ten year old with a gun. Eventually all of this pretending leads him to believe that he is a Sniper, and he sits at his window and follows people with the bead of the rifle, day by day feeling even more of the power that a weapon, such as his rifle, emits. Tobias later becomes so infatuated with the rifle that he finds Roy’s” ammunition for the twenty-two caliber rifle and loads it. Tobias then returns to his window and continues to “make his bead” on the passer by’s. As time progresses Tobias comes to a day when he is so overwhelmed by the rifle, and his patience to shoot the gun has become so low that he decides it is time to pull the trigger.