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“The Night in Question” by Tobias Wolff is a third-person narrative about the death of Benny Bolling, the son of Janice and Mike Bolling, who died after being crushed by machinery while at work with his father. He deliberately disobeyed his father and went to the mechanical room that is deep below the surface of the bridge. He was so far down in the mechanical room that he could not hear what was above him on top of the bridge. A train was heading towards the bridge, and if his father did not lower the bridge for the train,all the passengers would surely die. The child leaves his father in a desperate situation in which he has to decide whether to save his son or to save the people on the train. Should he save his son, who is his own flesh and blood, but is only one life compared to the many of lives on the train? On the other hand, he can save the train full of people who as we see in the following quote are perceived to be not worthy of saving based on society’s views on how people should act: “There is the false witness.There is the bribe-taker.There is a woman who abandons her husband and children for her own pleasure” (Wolff,641). Mike Bolling is approached with this decision without this knowledge and based on his own view of life and faith. So he decides to save the lives of many over the lives of one, pulling down the bridge and killing his son in the process.


One Response to “Tobias Wolff “The Night in Question””

  1. Kristina: The story you recount is, of course, merely the story (or sermon) told within the larger story of Frances and Frank. We don’t hear, in fact, what Mike decides because Frances stops Frank and declares that the conclusion she knows he will offer does not account for the ferocity of her love for him.

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