English Lit: It compares Paul Auster's essay, "Portrait of an Invisible Man" with John Edgar Wideman's "Our Time".

Essay by panictimeHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 2004

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In Auster's essay, "Portrait of an Invisible Man" and Wideman's "Our Time," both authors wrote about a specific family member in order to know and understand that person. In gathering information, both then reflected on their own lives, and roles they had played in the other person's life. In Austers' case, he set out to learn about his dead father, who was very isolated and distant throughout his lifetime. Wideman on the other hand, wanted to learn about the life of his jailed brother, and how they, despite being brothers, had had such diverse paths to adulthood. Both authors through listening, learn about other persons life experiences, and they gain a new perspective on shared events.

Throughout Austers' childhood and teenage years, he often found himself striving for attention and recognition from his father, but continually was let down and was frequently shown that his fathers' mind was elsewhere and very detached from the world.

As he later discovered, his father was distant from everyone in his life. No one really knew who Auster's father had been; he was someone different to everyone. Auster found that his father was removed from everyone in his life, no family really depended on him, and in the end, no one's life would be truly altered by his death. Everything from his job, to his family life was all a consistent battle to stay invisible and escape reality. Simply by walking away, Auster's father remained detached, becoming a picture and a memory, but never a tangible, knowable human being; certainly not the father Auster had tried to hard to find. Death was just another escape to maintain his invisible way of life.

Although Wideman was writing about his brother who was still alive, in a sense he felt...