Plot summary[ edit ] Two brothers, Afro-Americans , John and Robert, grow up together in the same neighborhood in Homewood. But they live very different lives. Being unemployed and in need of money to buy heroin he and his friends tried to steal a truck load of stolen TV sets, but one of his accomplices shot the fence who was trying to run away. Wanted for armed robbery and murder, Robert and his accomplices ran for three months. John was a writer and taught literature and creative writing at the University of Wyoming at that time.
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The first question he considers is why his brother ends up in prison while he goes a very different direction in life.
He further questions the meaning of criminal behavior and how it develops. He examines the nature of the prison system. He must learn to cope with that system as a visitor, an outsider who is given insight by his visits and by letters written by his brother from the inside. There have been many theories offered to explain why some people become criminals, and the author looks to some of these theories to give him the answer as to why his brother has become a criminal and he has not.
There is always in his desire to find this answer a certain sense of guilt, as if he has failed to help his brother or as if he should have followed the same path in life. The two were raised in the same house, they have the same parents, they lived in the same neighborhood as children, and therefore they had many of the same experiences.
There are several theories of how the environment influences the development of criminal behavior, but both brothers have had the same environment for their formative years. Other theories try to find genetic reasons for criminal behavior, and yet these two brothers are close together genetically. Bartol discusses this theory as developed by Hags J. Eysenck in Eysenck instead argues that psychological knowledge provides the key answers and stra In LotsofEssays.
John Edgar Wideman