The Liar: Illusion Of Control

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade April 2001

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Dying is an inevitable thing; it is the one true thing we can always count on on happening. We have no control over when it happens. However, if we lie about death, we cheat it. If we say we are dying but we are not, we are controlling when we die with a false reality, and in turn attempting to control death and lesson the fear of death. If we are afraid of death we cannot live a fulfilled life, so we must let go of illusions, in order to get past the fear of death. By doing this, we live better, more fulfilled lives. The story, "The Liar"� by Tobias Wolff, explores this way of dealing with the fear of death, through a young boy, James, coping with his fathers death; Wolff does this with his well crafted symbolism and imagery. James lost his father from cancer.

James had moved his father's body to his bed the day he died. James recalls, "She thought I was coldhearted because of what happened the day my father died and later at his funeral. I didn't cry at my father's funeral, and showed signs of boredom during the eulogy, fiddling around with the hymnals."�(5) James does not cope with his father's death by crying, but by attempting to control death by imagining. James' father had a fear of death which Doctor Murphy, a friend, tries to figure out. James says, "He was afraid of finding his limits"� Dr Murphy told me: "As long as he kept stamping papers and making out wills, he could go on believing that he didn't have limits."�(11) The imagery that Wolff presents here is that the final limit of life is death. James' father tried to trick or cheat death by imagining that he...