Bullet in the Brain


Tobias Wolff

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Coyle’s Cousin Character Analysis

Although unnamed, this character is vital to understanding Anders’s personality. When Anders was young, Coyle’s cousin came from Mississippi to visit his neighborhood, and participated in a baseball game. He chose to play shortstop, believing it to be the best position on the field. When discussing his choice with the other players, Coyle’s cousin mispronounces a few words, and Anders is struck by the way these mispronunciations sound. To Anders, the mispronunciation sounds almost musical, and he runs on to the field while repeating the words. In Anders’s adult life, he would likely criticize the boy for the mistake, but in his youth, he considered such errors novel and interesting. Coyle’s cousin helps illustrate how dramatically Anders’s personality has altered, as he changes from a fascinated, passionate young man into a cynical, isolated adult.

Coyle’s Cousin Quotes in Bullet in the Brain

The Bullet in the Brain quotes below are all either spoken by Coyle’s Cousin or refer to Coyle’s Cousin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cynicism and Respect Theme Icon
Bullet in the Brain Quotes

“Shortstop,” the boy says. “Short's the best position they is.” Anders turns and looks at him. He wants to hear Coyle's cousin repeat what he's just said, though he knows better than to ask. The others will think he's being a jerk, ragging the kid for his grammar. But that isn't it, not at all-it's that Anders is strangely roused, elated, by those final two words, their pure unexpectedness and their music.

Related Characters: Anders, Coyle’s Cousin
Related Symbols: The Baseball Game
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bullet in the Brain PDF

Coyle’s Cousin Character Timeline in Bullet in the Brain

The timeline below shows where the character Coyle’s Cousin appears in Bullet in the Brain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Bullet in the Brain
Nostalgia and Innocence Theme Icon
...arrive to join the game. One of them is named Coyle, and the other is Coyle’s cousin , from Mississippi. Anders has never met Coyle’s cousin, and will “never see” him again... (full context)
Cynicism and Respect Theme Icon
Nostalgia and Innocence Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Coyle’s cousin says he wants to play shortstop, because it is the best position “they is.” This... (full context)