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The concept of what Wideman presents in the section, ‘Our Time’, provides a solid platform, towards, the different life choices, that one is compelled to take, in accordance to the different phases of life or the different hurdles that he faces. Furthermore, the aspect of why a certain choice or plan was implemented upon is what makes the story of life quite beguiling in the eyes of the society and the hardships become a step towards, the accomplishments that are to come in one’s in the near future. The entire perception of how Robby’s life took a turn from being a robber and an alleged murderer, he finds the sense of spiritual accomplishment more appealing once he is in prison, the fact of being the most incompetent amongst all the cousins, takes a toll on him, as he feels that he is the most unsuccessful, one out of the rest. Having his other brother with a happy family and a successful career brings about a lot of torture and stress for him. Since, Robby channeled all the negative energy that he had on his part, his belief system totally focused on how he could achieve the sense of success and become successful the easy way. Hence, he opts to get the respective financial sustainability which can be achieved in the most easiest manner and falls under the bad influence of rebellion and crime where he works as a drug dealer initially, and later is imprisoned for felony of murder.

Thesis statement: Of all reasons that John, Robby and Mrs. Wideman bring forward to explain Robby’s decline into crime, which set of causes emerge as most important and why?


The entire repercussions that Robby faces, bring forward, the formidable causes that were the root for the personality that he became. One being the fact that he was ridiculed throughout his life. “ I listen to my brother Robby. He unravels my voice.” (Page 775). The personality one possesses is the amalgamation of the experiences and the different aspects of life that they face. That being said, a person’s life is a product of different ups and downs, a major cause of why Robby chose a life of crime was due to the different mishaps and the potent bullying that he faced in school. “People said, Here comes another Wideman. He’s gon be a good student like his brothers and sister. That’s the way it was supposed to me.” (Page 774). This also explains how expectations and general norms of the society can thus contribute towards the stress of individuals and indulge them in self-doubt. Along with the animosity that was eventually growing within him, but other than that, there was the fact, that Mrs. Wideman, mother of Robby and John, had made him spoilt as well. This can be complied with the rationale that his mother was grieving already and she may have acquired the easier path that lead to the opposite of choosing to discipline her child. One more reason that comes to the mind of the reader is that, the most probable chance of the change in Robby’s attitude towards crime, was due to the element of shame and regret.

It is to be put into understanding that ‘Our time’ reflects on the aspect of how Robby, brings about a change in his life, after he is imprisoned in jail, without the choice of bail or parole. The situation that he was in now depicts the change in his behavior and the problem that he now faces being a black. The bullying that he had faced priory, becomes an issue as now he is faced with inferiority complex and finds himself incapable of doing anything, and feels as if he is not the right person to do the right thing. Once imprisoned, he also steers clear of this dilemma, as the inferiority soon fades away and he finds that it was his own, self-esteem hidden within his lowered pride that had him face this inferiority complex to begin with. In light of the previously set context, it can be said that, the designated decisions that were took by the three characters, namely Robby, his brother John and their mother Mrs. Wideman, were due to the situation provided to them. “The biggest thing they were worried about was me…I could tell they were scared.” (Page 773) This means that basically, the making of a solitary man is not the one, forced upon him, rather, it is the one, that he or she faces, with the different experiences, that they are compelled to face.

Ever wrong doing is done right, at one time, the inner calling of righteousness is what brings about a change in the mind and belief system of one’s personality. “I’d think, Go on and love those square turkeys, but one day I’ll be the one coming back with a suitcase full of money and a Cadillac …. The worst thing I did, the thing I feel most guilty behind is stealing Mom’s life. Can’t nothing change that? I can’t give back what’s gone. (Page 777). What is compelling is that the character had adopted the negative traits, virtues of jealousy, unequal play and achievements that were driven or rooted through negative principles. This implies that from a very young age, he was taught little between the differentiation of ethics and morality, which is why his mind took time to adapt to the environmental forces around him. Same is the case with Robby, once he sees how well off his brother is doing, and the fact, of his torrid past, where one of his partners accidently killed a criminal, his view regarding what he was doing with his life became more clear, the humane aspect of what he wished to be and what he had become, brought within him a sense of shame and regret, and henceforth, he decided, to focus on becoming a person, more close to his, moral values and ethics. The aspect of how he had led down his family, more importantly, his mother, and the love that she had given him all his life, made him feel devalued and regretful towards his own decisions. The most strong aspect that is to be seen here, is the fact that, Robby’s perceptive guilt was short-lived, as the desire, to prove the people wrong, and despite being forgiven by his mother, he feels that he should opt for a plan to be successful in terms of finding means to earn the easy way again. His desire to be much like his brother overpowered all the rationality out of him. Causes such as a defective personality, jealousy, animosity and rebellious attitude, were the major reasons, for which he had to pay the price and somehow, he learnt to live with those aspects. “Having a little bit of taste behind me I couldn’t wait to get to Homewood. In a way, I got mad with Mommy and the rest of them.” (Page 774).


The essence of dignity and abandonment of his own value system had propelled within him no sense of humanity, rather, he started to work, for himself, more selfishly, and fell into the consensus of how he could, stay in the system and work for the cause of purchase of drugs, by being in the system. It is imperative to denote that the life of the central character has not been affected by just one factor, but there are several interconnected domains that have shaped the personality and behavior of the character overall. Instead of fighting for the rights of his people and the Black community, he became a victim of inferiority and fought for his own selfish needs, that too, through illegal terms rather than, opting for legal approaches. Robby matures with the time he spends in prison and the meetings he has with his brother, which allow him to feel a sense of family enlightens within his mind and so the element of ‘rebirth of humanity’; “A brother behind bars, my own flesh and blood, raised in the same house by the same mother and father; a brother confined in prison has to be a mistake, a malfunctioning of the system.” (Walker, 2013). The main dilemma is the cultural factors that are external and outside of the internal dynamics of a family. These include racism, being labeled and how the self doubting image of an individual could lead to much larger consequences.

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