“All Ahead of Them” by Tobias Wolff is a story about a man who discovers that his new wife has been stealing from him and those around him. He decides to let her get away with it the same way he always has, while also realizing how little he really knows her.
The structure of the piece is very interesting, I think. It seems almost stream of consciousness, following Thomas’s thoughts. I thought it was a really interesting way to tell a story with, essentially memory anecdotes. At times in the story, it felt a bit to me like it was rewinding, and going back for more information, only to snap back to the present of the story.
This story is also very strong in the way that it handles characterization. My favorite scene was when Thomas was looking at the painting of Nedra. The way he explains his wife’s namesake in the painting gave the reader the idea that she was sneaky. I thought this was a really cool way of indirectly characterizing Arden. It wasn’t even noticeable at first, but once you realized what Arden was doing, it makes a lot of sense.
I think that, most of all, I can learn from this kind of characterization. It seems simple, but it kinda blew my mind a little when I read it.
What do you think about Thomas’s choice at the end? How did you read his mom’s dream, and it’s recurrence in the end? What do you think is the significance of them both going by different names than their given ones?