“Boys” by Rick Moody was about two twin boys who grew up together. Throughout the story, we are shown the conflicts that they endure together. We are told of how they undergo boyhood while learning more about the differences between the two of them and how they grow through their time together. It begins with the boys coming home from the hospital as newborns and we see their growth through all of their issues and their own ways of coping with them until they leave their home and become men after their father dies.
Growing up, the boys constantly tease their younger sister. It will later be revealed that the sister becomes very ill when the boys are about high school-aged and it is implied that she dies. The boys’ similarities are more prevalent in the beginning of the story and their differences increase as the story progresses. There is also sibling rivalry that is not present for the first part of the story. We are shown how the brothers used to be much closer but one, for example “can hit” a baseball while the other cannot. The boys may have been becoming increasingly different to one another each time they entered the house.
Reading this, I felt very nostalgic as did the main characters. Moody expressed the nostalgic feel through the repetition, and each time he said “Boys enter the house.” The mood of the story could have changed each time the quote was repeated, significantly more so than the last time it was stated. This is because the quick-paced rate of the story showed big details in the boys’ lives in only a couple of sentences.
The story made me feel sad for the boys after they grew up and were no longer boys. But the ending was not the only sad part of the story. When we are told that their younger sister is ill, her brothers try to find her dolls that they buried a long time ago, which was sweet and really depressing.
Also, phrases like “The boys are ugly, they are failures, they will never be loved, they enter the house,” are small but make you feel sad but kind of confused because it is just nonchalantly placed in between lines that have nothing to do with it, which is a small detail but tells us more about the author and what kinds of emotions he wants the readers to feel.
I would like to use a more poetic (almost) style in my writing like it was wonderfully executed by Moody here. There was lots of repetition here but it is not easy to get away with using so much of it and not having it sound annoying or cheesy, which I could try to use in some of my own pieces. The parallelism used between the very first and last sentences is something that I should incorporate into my story because the reader will enjoy seeing that you put an effort into the wording of the story. We can see it in boys used how he said “Boys enter the house,” in the first sentence and then he ended it with “Boys, no longer boys, exit the house.”
The characters are not one-dimensional, which I appreciated, even if the information we do get on them is very vague and sparse. The names the boys called each other told us what the characters saw in their brother but also told us more about them. The boys are not given names, but you can infer which twin is which when they say “one” and then “the other.” Their differences are shown more and more towards the end of the story and their mocking of each other peaks before their sister’s death, after which they significantly mature even though their coping methods are immature.
The growth in the characters is something very evident in this piece, which I never show enough of in my own work. There was no dialogue in this story, which actually is better in some pieces because it can leave questions unanswered and left for the reader to answer themselves. We are told very little about the setting, even though the house is mentioned in many of the sentences. It is cool how the author chose to have the readers view their lives from afar.
There could have been multiple themes in this story, but I mostly saw maturity, or lack thereof in this story to be a theme. The boys are quite youthful and playful at times when maybe they should not be, but I noticed that when their sister died, the twins both matured and “set aside their differences” to be with her.
After the death of their younger sister, they left a portion of their immaturity but one of them seemed to have recovered it, even If it was his own way of coping with grief. This was the boy who was driving while intoxicated after the wedding, was arrested, and started a huge car crash, essentially being an embarrassment to his twin. After the death of their father, though, the twins fully matured- it seemed. We can see this in the last sentence, “The boys, no longer boys, exit.”
Did the mood change throughout the story?
How and when did the mood change?
What are some of the conflicts in this story and did the conflicts affect the boys?