Howard Wakefield Analysis

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Howard Wakefield’s life is seemingly perfect in all regards. A stable job at a respected law firm, a lovely home, and a beautiful family. Yet, he is clearly unhappy with the monotonous routine that plagues his daily life. In Doctorow’s version of the short story, the narrator is Mr. Wakefield and as a result, the reader understands his reasoning in deciding to leave his wife and children. The reader is given insight about Wakefield’s unsatisfying marriage and the irritation he expresses due to his structured life. In this sense, Howard Wakefield holds the mindset of many individuals who desperately yearn for a more simplistic way of life. However, this desire is taken to an extreme when he begins living in the family attic above his…show more content…
Wakefield is evidently stunned by his actions, but feels no obligation to return to his wife and children. He describes how walking down the garage stairs, “the cool air of the dawn welcomed me with a soft breeze” (8). The key words within this statement are “welcomed” and “soft”. This use of diction highlights the idea that Howard Wakefield is embracing his new surroundings and is welcoming of the change that is being brought about in his life. To end the paragraph, Wakefield poses the question, “What is there about a family that is so sacrosanct, I thought, that one should have to live in it for one’s whole life, however unrealized one’s life was” (8). Wakefield is essentially questioning why he must put his own goals and aspirations on hold in order to appease his family. Howard Wakefield’s reasoning, to a degree, is quite relatable as we all have the urge to put our life and responsibilities on hold for a…show more content…
By juxtaposing the image of the dark garage and the natural beauty within his yard, the reader is left with the perception that Howard Wakefield has experienced a rebirth. This distinction stresses the idea that Wakefield was walking blindly through life and now suddenly he has found clarity. Wakefield describes, “For the first time, it seemed, I understood the green glory of this acreage as something indifferent to human life and quite apart from the Victorian manse set upon it. The sun was not yet up and the grass was draped with a wavy net of mist, punctured here and there with glistening drops of dew. White apple blossoms had begun to appear in the old tree, and I read the pale light in the sky as the shy illumination of a world to which I had yet to be introduced”

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