An Outsider on the Inside in "The Thrones" from Wolfe's The Right Stuff

Katie Reynolds '06, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2003

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In The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe wrestles with how media creates a window for the public into spheres that do not otherwise belong to them. The reporters who take on the stories often do not know anything about the subject either. Instead of researching they oversimplify, neatly package information and make things up in an effort to get it to sound the way they think it should; they turn it into a story the public will be able to easily digest and understand.

Wolfe is a reporter who has done his homework which gives him the unusual ability to have and outsider's view on the inside. In the following passage Wolfe looks at how such oversimplification and neat packing affects those truly on the inside.

Bob White was all right. You could read the cover story they had already written about him in Life, and you could see that White had not unbent so much as one inch for the occasion. You could see them straining to manufacture one of those "personality profiles" about White, and all he would give them was the Blue Suit and a straight arrow. That was Bob White.

A True Bother!

1. Wolfe is on the inside with an understanding of why it is respected for Bob White to just give "the Blue Suit and a straight arrow." What techniques does Wolfe employ to accomplish this while bringing the reader to the inside with him?

2. Why is White "a True Bother" in this instance? Why is Wolfe able just to say this and we understand what he means?

3. After reading this paragraph the reader feels a sense of pride with the pilots in overcoming the unsatisfactory system of journalism. How does Wolfe get us to feel this way?

4. How do you think the brotherhood would react to a pilot quitting (as in doing something else, leaving)? Can one just walk away from such a community? If they do how does their life change?

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Last modified 5 November 2003