Bullet in the Brain

by

Tobias Wolff

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Bullet in the Brain can help.

The Baseball Game Symbol Analysis

The Baseball Game Symbol Icon

When Anders is shot and a bullet begins traveling through his brain, Anders remembers a baseball game from his childhood. Memories of the summer heat and the chirps of insects set a scene of idyllic innocence, a sharp contrast to the violent and unfortunate situation Anders is experiencing outside of his memory. Before the game begins, a neighborhood boy, Coyle, and Coyle’s cousin, who is from Mississippi, arrive at the baseball field. The neighborhood boys ask what position Coyle’s cousin wants to play, and Coyle’s cousin claims the role of shortstop. When Coyle’s cousin is asked why he picked shortstop, he mispronounces a few words during his explanation, likely due to his southern accent. Anders finds the mispronunciation musical and interesting, and is so struck by the phrase that he almost asks Coyle’s cousin to repeat it. As an adult, this sort of mispronunciation would be the target of Anders’s scorn, but as a child, Anders was more forgiving and openly curious about the world. The baseball game therefore represents Anders’s lost innocence and joy, embodying a time when Anders was more compassionate and sympathetic towards others.

The Baseball Game Quotes in Bullet in the Brain

The Bullet in the Brain quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Baseball Game. 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
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Bullet in the Brain published in 2009.
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:

But for now Anders can still make time. Time for the shadows to lengthen on the grass, time for the tethered dog to bark at the flying ball, time for the boy in right field to smack his sweat-blackened mitt and softly chant, They is, they is, they is.

Related Characters: Anders
Related Symbols: The Baseball Game
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Bullet in the Brain LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bullet in the Brain PDF

The Baseball Game Symbol Timeline in Bullet in the Brain

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Baseball Game appears in Bullet in the Brain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Bullet in the Brain
Cynicism and Respect Theme Icon
Nostalgia and Innocence Theme Icon
...from his childhood “forty years past.” In this scene, he is participating in a summertime baseball game in his neighborhood. The boys of the neighborhood are arguing over which baseball player is... (full context)
Cynicism and Respect Theme Icon
Nostalgia and Innocence Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...Anders’s brain, bringing him closer to his inevitable death. But Anders’s memory of his childhood baseball game gives him time to relive his happier past and to recapture his innocence. In his... (full context)