Reflective Essay

Submitted By Jennifer-Burnette
Words: 862
Pages: 4

Jennifer Burnette
Professor Calatrello
English Composition 102-W1
22 February 2015 Saving Grace I’ve enjoyed most of the stories we’ve read in The Elements of Fiction learning unit. Although, one of them stuck out to me more than the others, Tobias Wolff’s “That Room”. The story revolves around the main character, whom is the narrator, his co-worker Clemson, and two Mexican brothers named Miguel and Eduardo. As I read the story, I was able to identify with various scenes and social situations that the main character finds himself in. When I was a teenager, I too desired to grow up quickly and live what he describes as “a real life in a real world” (177). I began drinking alcohol at a young age and found myself in dangerously compromising circumstances, similar to the one that the narrator finds himself in approaching the end of the story. I felt a strong connection to the main character when the boss’ nephew, Clemson, was apprehensive regarding joining the Mexican brothers for a drink after work, in that I was, more often than not, the young person who would push the friends closest to my sphere of influence to “join in on the fun”. In my own naïve thinking, real life was embodied in those tantalizing moments of risk taking. As he describes the dank, dark hotel room where the Mexicans are staying, along with other seasonal workers, it was as if I was stepping back in time. I have literally entered hotel rooms where “you got swamped by the smell of mildew the moment you stepped inside. The floor was mushy underfoot and shedding squares of drab linoleum, the ceiling bowed and stained. The overhead light didn’t quite reach the corners. Behind the mildew was another, unsettling smell” (177). I can also relate to the main character as he makes known the actions of how “he made a show of being right at home” (177). In retrospect, all of these were signs that I should have heeded and made my own way out of similar situations post-haste, as I’m sure the main character wishes the same soon afterward. It appears that the main character is a person that prides himself on being in control of his own destiny, as he pointed out early in the story that he “got a case of independence” (176) and set off to start his own way. Therefore, being in the predicament he found himself in when Miguel was drinking too much and pulled a pistol out must have been quite the surprise to a young man that is used to being in control of his own surroundings and destiny. I can only imagine his shock when he takes further notice that Miguel was quite angry and “was seeing someone else” (178) when looking at him. I find it ironic that his saving grace comes in the form of something so far beyond his control that even I, as the reader, could’ve never guessed it. I’m sure that he has never been more excited to see someone puke from too much alcohol in his life! One of my favorite sayings is that if you don’t humble yourself, life will do it for you. I believe I connected so well to this story because life has humbled me time and time again in as “off the wall”