This Boy’s Life


Tobias Wolff

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This Boy’s Life: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Jack joins the basketball team at school, and as such needs new sneakers. Dwight refuses to buy them for him, though, and chastises Jack for outgrowing his old shoes so fast. Because Jack’s games are at night, Norma and her boyfriend Bobby Crow often drive him—Jack knows this is a way for them to steal time together. Still, Bobby gives Jack basketball tips, and Jack comes to idolize Bobby.
Even when participating in a benign activity, Jack finds himself subject to Dwight’s ire and insults. There is nothing that Jack can do right in Dwight’s eyes.
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After a game one night, Norma and Bobby are late picking Jack up. As Jack gets into the car with them, he notices how warm the air is inside; as he watches Norma play with the hair on the back of Bobby’s neck, he realizes that the two of them are sleeping together. He feels disappointed and sad, but continues to nurse his little crush on Norma.
Once again, Jack’s efforts to get close to one of his new “siblings” is met with the realization that he is profoundly unimportant to them.
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