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Wildlife By Richard Ford; Character Analysis


Richard Ford is a prolific writer who in his work, he brings out the significance of the environment in influencing the behavior of an individual. The book has four main characters whose behavior and character is strongly influenced by the nature of the surrounding environment. The character who exhibits this observation is Joe Brinson.

Joe exhibits a rather introverted way of behavior. He does not involve his friends in his problems. He struggles to keep abreast with the challenges posed by the environment. His reaction to these uncertainties helps the reader to understand Joe’s character. From the analysis of his reactions, the following character traits are obvious for Joe.


Even though the circumstances surrounding the young man are not trivial, he takes them so because of his determination for life. When the dad vanishes into the smoke after losing his job, he quickly learns how to get along without the dad. The mom leaves soon after making him develop an analysis of people's lives in his area. In his analysis, he learned that a few people amass wealth for themselves, and many others do nothing to break away from poverty. This gives him the determination to pursue the best for himself and the running away family. He does not give up despite the circumstances surrounding him.

A quick learner

Joe's ability to learn quickly is evident immediately he realizes that not even his mother will be there for him. He goes forth to learn how to survive and help the family as well. He views the two sides of life with much optimism than anyone can imagine a boy of his age can. The analysis he gives to life explains it all. He considers his parents ignorant when the unexpected events unfold before him. He rather takes a mature path than one would expect. He is faced with the mother’s infidelity and the father’s rage, he makes decisions that are right, and this keeps him living well. He does not run into the streets as other children do. He learns to see opportunities in the difficulties surrounding him. He does not feel shame when the mother misbehaves before him with Warren Miller. He instead treat her with love but hates on the character.

He is caring

He treats all the parents with much love despite their failing to take up the responsibility of bringing him up in the expected way. Through their irresponsibility, he is forced to grow faster into a man at his young age. He reiterates that, his parents were adults who had not realized just how old they were and were behaving like children. He brings out the irony in the story since he is a child here, but circumstances have forced him to behave like an adult. His mother makes love to Miller in front of him and all he does think of it is that his mother realizes that what she is doing is bad. He does not at all hate on his mother. In his narration, he sounds loving and caring to the mother despite the ugly incidents she has put him through.


Joe is a hero in this story and demonstrates strong personality traits that a few people have. Richard Ford has succeeded in bringing out the main theme on parenting by looking deep into the lives Joes family.