Wolff’s memoir “This Boy’s life” examines how life challenges can shape ones Identity. The memoir explores how determination is fuelled by hardship and that resourcefulness is essential in overcoming life’s obstacles. Besides the many difficulties Jack and Rosemary face, these difficulties are what ignites their motivation to transform their lives. Jack Despite the hardship he experiences, he possesses a great deal of resilience. Jacks mother Rosemarie begins her life in a constant abusive environment and is mistreated by her Father, in return this means she wants to treat Jack differently, because of this Jack lacks Control, Discipline and functionality. This Hinders Jacks ability to succeed and have a normal functional adolescence. On top of this setback, Jack has no choice but to follow his mother on her string of abusive relationships.
Jack is abused by Dwight Physically and Mentally. Although inside this has “disfigured [him]”, Jack knows he is hopeless and that he lacks Power over the situation. Even though Jack is pushed to breaking point he often intelligently responds to Dwight by allowing his abuse to pass straight through him. It is this sort of resilience that he gains from this Hardship to get through with an optimistic outlook. Jack and Rosemarie are determined to “change [Their] luck”. Jack and his mother have an eager desire to escape their current unsettled lives and to follow the so called “American Dream”. They both begin their expedition by leaving Roy so Rosemarie can find a job mining for Uranium. Rosemarie seems to be a magnet for cruel men and continues to have trouble really avoiding these disturbing circumstances, until she finally decides to leave Dwight which this time has a sense of finality. Jacks “[has his] own dreams of transformation”. His form of escape is to constantly change Personas and it seems as though jack lies about himself so he can accept how he wants to be perceived, this includes changing his name from Toby to Jack after his Idolized Author “Jack London”.
Jack within his limited means manages to identify various methods for self-improvement as a way of changing his luck. Jack attempts getting into the “Hill school” and he also aspires to be an engineer “the more [he says] it the more possible it seems”. It is Jack and Rosemary’s Determination to change their lives that eventually allow them to escape their once brutal lives. Rosemarie and Jack are able to deal skilfully and promptly with certain situations and in this sense they are both highly resourceful. Jack manages to lie about his grades and his whole persona again but this time it is to get into the “Hill School”. He wants to “show them [he isn’t] as dumb as they [think he is]”.
Rosemary eventually escapes from Dwight and after Dwight it feels as if she has escaped from her string of abusive and cruel relationships. She is highly resourceful by gathering the courage to get up and leave even though she feels as though she is stuck with him. Rosemarie and jack in the end manage to both change their luck but not in the way that is originally intended. The pair are optimistic, as they are throughout the memoir; they have both swerved from their imminent path of turbulence to a new imminent path of personal success. Jack and Rosemary have underwent a huge ordeal of pain and Hardship but this hardship fuelled their resilience, resourcefulness and above all their determination to turn a new leaf. “[His] stepfather used to say that what [didn’t] know would fill a book, well here it is”.
Changing Personas is not his only form of escape but jack to cope with injuring his finger was “addicted to morphine”, then after he had no access to Morphine he then thought “alcohol might [make him] feel better”. Jack may have just had a withdrawal from the drugs at the hospital but we get an impression the pain of his finger and the withdrawal of the morphine is not the only thing that made jack want to resort to Whiskey.