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“For her brother she’d fought neighborhood punks, snotty teachers and unappreciative coaches, loan sharks, landlords, bouncers. From the time she was a scabby-kneed girl she’d taken on her own father, and if push came to shove she’d take on the Father of All, that incomprehensible bully. She was ready.”

In Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question,” the narrator, Frances, has to deal with the loss of her little brother’s dependence. Frank and Frances grew up in a tragic family. Their father was mentally and physically abusive towards Frank from a young age. Their mother “could not allow herself to see what she had no strength to oppose;” the strong force she could not oppose was her husband, committing suicide by ammonia. Due to the negligence of their parents, Frances had to take care of her little brother. Frances not only feels powerful but she also has a purpose by defending her little brother. She was there for him during his alcoholism, his many near death experiences, and every problem he ever had to face; he was never alone. Frank tells Frances about the sermon that his preacher told in church. He recounts the heart-wrenching story of a man faced with saving his own son or many strangers. Frances makes him stop telling the story because she knows that the father will not choose his son and this does not make sense to her. Frances asks Frank what he would do and he must think hard of his answer. She is asking him to choose between what his religion says, and the sister that has always been there for him. It is at this moment that one can see that Frances feels as though she can be his only source of comfort. She feels her little brother finding something else to lean on; religion. Frances notices this when she says he sounds different and tells him, “Yeah, well you sounded better when you were drunk.” This gives insight that Frances likes to take care of her brother and she liked him better when he couldn’t take care of himself. The narrator then flashes back to the times when the characters’ father would work himself up into a rage and go looking for Frances and Frank. With her own legs tremoring Frances would tell Frank, “It’s okay, Franky. I’m here” with “unaccountable joy” because she loved being the person that Frank finds safety in. This is a lesson that can be felt by many people—the selfish need to be needed. Frank is straightening out his life and has found comfort in religion, but now has no need for Frances. Frances’ whole world has always revolved around Frank. Now that Frank is finally growing up and changing for the better, he no longer needs her to protect him.

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