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“What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” by Marth Brooks

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Martha Brooks’ short story called “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” is about a 14-year-old junior high student, Andrew, who has to take the public bus to his orthodontic appointment every third Thursday of the month. After this particular appointment, for which he was late, he got sick on the bus on the way home. A man that he’d seen on the bus a lot of times before helped him out and was very happy to hear that Andrew had noticed him before.

The story takes place on a public bus and briefly in an orthodontist’s office in a city, but the name of the city is not given. In the beginning of the story, the time is 2:47 p.m. when he gets on the bus from school and by the end when he gets home it is about 6:00 p.m. The main character is Andrew, but another important character is Earl, a man on the bus with Andrew. The conflict of the story is that Andrew has to take the bus and he hates it, even though his mom says, “Andrew, taking the bus is an education. It’s a rare opportunity for people of all types and from all walks of life to be in one enforced environment that allows them to really get a close look at one another.” (pg.41, par.3). The conflict is never really resolved, but his mind changes a bit about the people being so weird and his attitude towards traveling on the bus is somewhat changed.

The theme of this story is growing up. Andrew is getting older, starting to think of what he wants to be when he grows up and learning more about the people around him and relationships. Andrew is a humorous character, making up funny names in his head for the strangers on the bus and for the receptionist at the orthodontist’s office. He calls the old receptionist “the purple-haired dinosaur,” a man in a business suit “the suit,” and before he knew Earl’s name Andrew called him “the sandy-haired man” or “pork chop man.” He has a sort of sarcastic humor to the things he thinks and says. Andrew also notices a lot of things; he pays close attention to details of people. Earl even told him near the end of the story, “You’re different. You notice things.” (pg.48, par.4).

Earl was not very liked on the bus because he was loud and annoying. He caused a young girl that was sitting with him to switch seats, he annoyed a business man by messing his hair while opening a window, and he struck up a conversation with a stranger that was too polite to ignore him. When Andrew got sick, earl helped him by opening the window for him to puke out of and by talking to him. Earl turned out to be a nice man, who was lonely and just wanted people to notice him. He was amazed when he learned that Andrew had noticed him.

Martha Brooks describes people on the bus very well and uses imagery. For example, she explained one girl as, “…a girl with pasty white skin and pale eyes lined in some kind of indigo gunk.” (pg.42, par.3) and describes earl’s hand as “that massive freckled paw”. She also uses similes like “I can’t stand older women who wear stockings rolled, like floppy little doughnuts, down to their ankles.” (pg.42, apr.3) and “…whose stomach rolled like a pumpkin over the belt of his green work pants…” (pg.43, par.4).

“What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” by Martha Brooks is a short story about Andrew, a 14-year-old boy, who takes the bus to his orthodontic appointments and learns about people and growing up. He meets a lonely man names Earl and learns that you shouldn’t judge people right away by how they look. Martha uses imagery and similes in her writing to make the story interesting. I can relate to Andrew very well because he seems very much like a teenager I would meet. Martha doesn’t try so hard to make her writing sound like that of a teenage boy’s thoughts that it doesn’t sound realistic at all. It’s very believable. Whenever I go to a big city, I notice all types of people and how different they are. He looks at people and explains them in a humorous way. I really like this story because of its ability to make me smile while reading it.

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