Firstly, their relationship was not very close because their personalities were totally contrasting each other. While the older brother was pessimistic, pragmatic and rigid, the younger one was an optimist, who dared to dream. Hence, there was no common interest between the two siblings, and both of them could not relate to each other. Besides, since the older brother was so caught up with “homework and a thousand other things”, he could not be bothered with his sibling, much less spend time with him.
He was even “siding with mom” when his unworldly brother failed to prioritize between work and play. The speaker remembered his brother for his “planes swirling with grace”, and “bubbling laughter’s pace”, some qualities that he himself did not possess. After the death of his younger brother, it then dawned on the speaker that the earth did not seem as “dull” as he made it out to be, and that his brother understood the ways of the world better than he.
Thus, their relationship was more of mutual admiration and respect, rather than true compassionate sibling love. When they were young, the younger brother was obliged to respect the speaker, but after his death, the tables were turned and the speaker in turn looked up to his younger brother for his rosy prospect of life. Secondly, the age gap between the two brothers also posed as a barrier for development of their relationship.
Being older, the speaker had different priorities compared to his brother. For instance, he felt that imagining and dreaming were childish and insignificant.
However, after his brother died, the speaker then started to relish the memories of his brother and threw the paper planes for him. After all, those “poor pieces of paper” are all he had left of his brother.