This Boy’s Life as a Memoir

When bearing in mind the characteristics of a memoir, the style of the plot must be the first consideration. Memoirs are practically entirely written from the first-person point of view. This means it comes from a singular pronoun perspective. Here we are going to direct our focus to This Boy’s Life as a Memoir.

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This Boy’s Life as a Memoir

This Boy’s Life as a Memoir has a specific focus:

Memoirs can emphasize virtually anything. Many tend to focus on specific relationships or events that have happened, but there really is no law that needs to be followed here. In this Boy’s life, this configuration is also clear. The story has a specific focus on the happenings of Tobias Wolff’s life.

The story is set in the 1950s; Toby is traveling across the country with his mother to mine uranium. They ingenuously believe that this will provide them with prosperity to live off of for the rest of their lives. Due to their constant travels together, Tobias and his mother share a deeply intimate relationship that is closer than the typical mother-son bond. 


Toby’s mother suffered an abusive childhood and therefore spends time with an ostensibly endless amount of violent lovers. Wolff relates these childhood experiences and how they strengthened him as a teenager and adult.

It makes the subject come alive: This Boy’s Life as a Memoir

When someone reads a memoir, they should be able to feel like they personally know the writer.


This Boy’s life also deals with this. When a reader reads this memoir, he must feel personal by comparing the teenage events of Toby’s life with his. It is because in this memoir such life events are described which, in one way or the other, can be connected to the reader’s life. That’s why when a reader reads a memoir he feels the feeling of a writer.

In a Memoir, there must be an ABC story:

Memoirs need to be more than just a collection of random memories. There needs to be a certain story arc to them, with an overall purpose that the reader can understand.


There is a proper start to the story with the introduction in “This Boy’s Life”. It was 1955 when Jack and his mother Rosemary were driving from Florida to Utah. They were going to change our luck. Then there is a body part of the story. Different memories of Jack’s life are described. Then the climax of the story comes when Rosemary decides that Jack will go out and she finally decides to leave Dwight.

The concluding chapter reveals that as an adult, Jack remembers driving back to Chinook from Seattle, singing hymns, and listening to the radio. He marvels at how free he felt to be starting a new life in a new place, where he would finally have the opportunity to recreate himself.

Memoirs are often limited in nature:

A memoir is not a complete chronology of life – that’s what an autobiography is for. Memoirs are about specific snapshots in time that have lessons offered to the reader.

If we see this characteristic in “This Boy’s Life” we may come to know that this is also a story of one life event not of whole life. The childhood of Toby and coming adulthood passing through different situations of life is depicted in this memoir.

The story is more important than 100% accuracy:

The benefit of telling a memoir is that the narrative comes from the personal perspective of the writer. Two people can see an event unfold and remember it in two very different ways. This is why the details of a memoir do not need to be absolutely accurate to be effective. The story is not told as it is. There is an element of fabrication in the memoir. Fabrication or falsification involves the unauthorized creation of information in an academic activity.

Dialogue should be natural instead of journalistic:

This might be the most difficult characteristic to get right when creating a memoir. There is a desire to get the details correct for the memory, so the narrative feels more like a newspaper article when reading a conversation.

“Jack:  I said I was a little sick to my stomach.

Dwight: “Sick to your stomach? A hotshot like you?”

Jack:   “I’m not a hotshot,” I said.

Dwight: “That’s what I hear. I hear you’re a real hotshot. Come and go where you

please, when you please. Isn’t that right?”

Jack:   I shook my head.”


If we see the dialogue in “This Boy’s Life” we can determine that dialogues seem like a normal regular conversation. There are no difficult terminologies used in dialogues. All the elements that a memoir should have are found in This Boy’s Life.

Hi, We are actually a team of professional English teachers. Mr. Ali Hussain and Mr. Ali Ijaz are the authors of this website. Teaching literature and writing allows us to share our love of reading with young minds. We hope that our passion for the subject will help to open the minds and doors of opportunity for students. It is our hope that students will be positively influenced by what we have to offer.

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