Thomas Wolfe Essay Research Paper Look Homeward

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Thomas Wolfe Essay, Research Paper Look Homeward: A Look at the Life of Thomas Wolfe “At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being–the reward he seeks–the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.” -Thomas Wolfe Thomas Wolfe’s works, which are acclaimed to be among the most influential of any

American writer’s, were almost literally rooted in his varied personal experiences. His early life experiences and heritage gave him an insatiable appetite for life. Although his life was short he was able to write some of the best American Literature of the twentieth century. His ability to appeal to everyone through his literally biographical novels, which contain rich imagery and deep moral resolution, has had a profound impact on American Literature. Thomas Wolfe’s early life greatly influenced his outlook on life and his later works. He was born on October 3 1900, a mix of German, English, and Scotch-Irish (”T. Wolfe”, 726). Wolfe was the youngest among a working class family of six brothers and sisters packed into a small house on 92 Woodfin Street in Asheville,

North Carolina (5). Due to the frugality of both parents, the seven brothers and sisters were forced to live in a house with only three proper bedrooms, one of which was occupied by Julia Elizabeth Westall and W.O. Wolfe, Thomas’s parents (6). Thomas was the object of exaggerated possessiveness because he was the last child. He was not weaned of milk until the age of three. Julia kept his hair curled and long until he was five when the neighborhood boys chided him about looking like a girl. Thomas even slept in the same bed as Julia until he was eight years old. This situation was only made worse by how Julia and W.O. felt about each other. Julia and W.O. Wolfe had a marriage almost as non-existent as their love for each other (10). W.O. was a tombstone engraver, and Julia was

a housewife with an interest in real estate. The parents would often fight openly in front of their children. A reoccurring reason for this fighting was W.O.’s “spree drinking”. Wolfe’s father was an alcoholic who would be able to abstain for months, often lecturing on the evils of drinking, only to go on another drinking binge. This pattern would plague W.O. for his entire life, and would be on of the many wedges driven between him and Julia (6). These marital problems took their toll on young Thomas. His parents, who would sometimes blame the stress associated with the unhappy marriage on the child, often verbally abused him because he was the last one, and almost an accidental birth (14). This left Wolfe with a sense of being unloved and therefore he always had a

craving to be praised and recognized. Another pattern that developed due to his parental relationships was one of seeking a paternal or maternal figure throughout is life (Nowell, 24). This seeking constitutes almost the entire them of Wolfe’s second great novel Of Time and the River. Julia was always finding a means of escaping her life in Asheville because of her unhappiness due to marital problems. In 1904 during the Worlds Fair, Julia moved to St. Louis and opened a boarding house, where she and the Wolfe children stayed for seven months (Nowell, 21). This business venture proved tragic, ending with the death of Grover who on of the twin brothers. The death of his brother would engrain in Thomas a fear that he would not live long enough to experience life as he wanted to,