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Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Woolf Essay

In “Bullet in the Brain” (1995), Tobias Woolf conveys the story of a man named Anders, a book critic, who experiences one final memory after being shot in the head by bank robbers. The story begins with Anders entering a Bank in the closing hours and criticising the long lines and bad service. Then, two bank robbers hold up the bank and end up shooting Anders in the head for his arrogant behavior. Woolf then goes on to explain his last memory as he is dying from his wounds. The bank robbers dialogue is important. The different ways that Wolff depicts the Robber’s dialogue greatly influences the tone of the story. Wolff’s way of using peculiar responses from the bank robbers is almost like a death trap for the critical Anders. He dares to taunt the robbers and makes ironic remarks on their usage of words. “Hey! Bright boy! Did I tell you to talk.. Did you hear that. Bright boy. Right out of the killers”(Anders202). Anders finds their words distinctive enough that he needs to make a comment about it. By ignoring what the robbers do and say he makes the situation worse as the robbers start to lose their head because of him.

A nervous robber is much more dangerous than a calmed one and Anders would consider this but he does not. He doesn’t realize that he just put the people in danger as well as himself, even when he was asked to be quiet by a woman next to him. The woman is aware of the seriousness of the situation unlike Anders and tries to save her and maybe the others’ life as well. A person who does not take care of a dangerous situation is foolish but in this case Anders does not take care of the others’ safety as well and considers the criticism more important than the people’s life around him. Wolff also brings out a humorous tone with the robbers dialogue. He uses explicit words that give readers a more vivid image of the robber’s personalities. The words let readers get a sense of the persona they have. In one scene the Wolff writes, “ You like me, bright boy?..You want to suck my dick”(202). Obviously, this shows the robber has a childish type of humor.

One can also say this type of humor is more consistent with someone young rather than an older person. Instead of Wolff explaining the characteristics of the robbers, he lets the readers figure it out themselves. Wolff gives little detail about the characteristics of the robber. The ammoniac smell coming out of his mouth gives a sense that he is under the influence of some type of drug. His twitching eye rather reveals that he is just extremely nervous or he is just high on drugs. Lastly, The way the robbers address the people inside the bank is important to the topic. It brings out the aggressive tone. It was a good way to act like professional robbers and make people think if they try to be a hero in this situation they will be shot. “One of you tellers hit the alarm, you’re all dead meat. Got it?” (201). The robbers uses really demanding words to terrorize the people. They are also able to take down the security and put him on his knees.

This strategy not only takes down the banks best line of defense, but it also lets the customers and workers acknowledge that they mean business and will hurt somebody that gets in their way. Nobody thinks they are a hero and can break up three or more people especially if they are holding guns in their hands so this tactic works very well except that Anders is there. Anders is there and makes them really adrenalized as he also makes the situation more dangerous. Anders’ behaviour is clearly blameable for the actions taken by the robbers. The aggressive tone did not even pass through Anders’ mind and he did not hesitate to make a remark.

His own happiness and joy in finding imperfectness in everything led to his downfall. It would be very reasonable to say the Anders triggered his own downfall but the robbers style of communicating also ignited the situation. Anders criticizes everything and the style of talking that the robbers conversate with was clearly distinctive enough for Anders to have a comment about it. Their dialogue provoked Anders. Who knows if there would have been a different approach of conversating from the robbers, then the story could have had a different ending.There will be no happy end for this story and Anders behaviour adds oil to the fire and make him responsible for his own death.

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