Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Tobias Wolff's Bullet in the Brain. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Bullet in the Brain: Introduction
Bullet in the Brain: Plot Summary
Bullet in the Brain: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Bullet in the Brain: Themes
Bullet in the Brain: Quotes
Bullet in the Brain: Characters
Bullet in the Brain: Symbols
Bullet in the Brain: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Tobias Wolff
Historical Context of Bullet in the Brain
Other Books Related to Bullet in the Brain
- Full Title: "Bullet in the Brain"
- When Written: 1995
- Where Written: Syracuse University, during Wolff’s residency.
- When Published: September 25, 1995
- Literary Period: Twentieth century literature
- Genre: Short story
- Setting: The story takes place in an unnamed bank, just before closing time. A key scene from the story also takes place at a summertime baseball game.
- Climax: The bank robber shoots Anders in the head.
- Antagonist: The unnamed bank robber
- Point of View: Third person limited
Extra Credit for Bullet in the Brain
Zeus and Europa. When Anders looks up at the ceiling, he sees a mural of Zeus and Europa, two figures from ancient Greek myth. In the story of Zeus and Europa, Zeus appears to Europa disguised in the form of a white bull. Europa, trusting the bull, climbs on Zeus’s back, and is then abducted by Zeus to the island of Crete. In Wolff’s story, the mural on the ceiling depicts Europa as a cow and Zeus as a bull, and Anders is struck by the mural’s cartoonish style.
Aeschylus the Tragedian. One of the memories that Wolff highlights from Anders’s past is a college class. In this class, the professor recites the work of Aeschylus, an ancient Greek playwright and tragedian. This reference to Greek tragedy is an appropriate allusion, as Wolff’s story ends in the grisly death of its protagonist.