Wolf in White Van Reflection


"Broken Heart" by Flickr user Ąиđч
Broken Heart” by Flickr user Ąиđч 

When writing my first draft of my Wolf in White Van assignment, I was extremely lost– there were so many things I wanted to say, so many arguments I could make, and thus my first draft ended up being disastrous. But after reading Brian’s first draft and having Kiara read mine, I had a better sense of what to write about. There was some comfort in writing a “normal” intro-body-conclusion essay, but somehow after all the crazy writing assignments we’ve done, I found this to be less enjoyable. Approaching a complex book filled with metaphors and plot holes with a basic high school essay outline didn’t seem to do it justice.

My final essay can be found here.

NOTE: I thought the picture looked reflective, not heart-broken…

Reflection of Wolf In White Van

Reading and discussing about Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle opened me to new perspectives that people may have about how they view their lives and the world around them. Imagination and creativity has always been a great ability to have, even more so in today’s ever computerized and digitized information age, however, Sean Phillip’s situation argues that the latter may not be so bad. Having the ability to imagine and envision a world which is not shared by everyone is a great aspect to hold, as long as it does not consume oneself and distort their life, as what happened to Sean.

In reading, writing, and discussing about Wolf in White Van, I reflected and gained insight to my own perception of reality. I must say though, this book brought to me more questions than answers as to what one may perceive reality to be, if their perception to reality can be considered either true or false, and what one should hold as their acceptable reality.

The final version of my full argument can be found here.

Featured Image can be found here.

Wolf in White Van Essay Reflection and Final Draft


Photo by R Pollard, titled “tex playing video games”

Wolf in White Van is a very unique novel that is hard to talk about much less write about.  It was hard to decide what I should focus in on when writing this essay since the novel is so complicated and there are so many different ways to look at it.  Once I decided on what I wanted to talk about, the essay wasn’t too terribly difficult to write considering it’s a very relatable book.  I appreciated the comfort I got from this assignment honestly.  It resembled a more traditional English class writing assignment, making me a little more confident in my abilities than I am when writing about video games and things I don’t feel very familiar with.  I definitely put this at one of my favorite assignments from the semester.  Visit my final draft here!

Wolf in White Van Essay Reflection

In the end, I’m pretty happy with my essay. I did a good job analyzing and used that as a platform to think more deeply about the work and its ultimate meaning. Having finished the first draft at a rather late, or one could call it early, hour I did not immediately take a critical look and thus was a little reticent to agree with the criticism of my peer editor Nick Reyes when I read it.  Of course, it turned out to be pretty spot-on in the end. One thing I did manage to learn by the end of high school was how much I can strengthen my writing when I get perspective from outside my own head, because I’m likely to miss the same spots as a reader that I missed as a writer. Still, it can still take me a moment to get get over my initial defensiveness so I called the person who taught me that lesson, my best friend and writing partner, and demanded she read my essay and tell me the peer editor’s criticism was off-base. Much to my chagrin, though not unexpectedly after years of exchanging work, she concurred with my peer editor and offered additional criticism in tow. Talking to her though, I was able to get a much clearer idea of what I really wanted to say and how to weave that in to my essay and make it a much less jarring experience for the reader. I had left too many assumptions for the reader to make and my conclusion was more of a surprise, as Nick had said, than the natural endpoint of my logic and evidence. In the end I feel as if I understood Wolf in White Van better, wrote a compelling argument, and had a productive writing process with myself and peers.

Oh no, what have I just done?


Photo Credits: Maddie Keating

In the final version of my essay on Wolf In White Van, I felt stuck on what to edit at first. After reading some of my fellow students papers and the review of my paper by the student who read it, I knew I needed more quotes to back up my claims and I needed to assert my thesis earlier in the paper. Through writing this paper I became much more comfortable with writing more of a formal essay. I know that my writing style thrives on a relaxed topics and formats of writing, but I was able to apply the skills I have learned in writing blog posts to an actual essay.

Wolf in White Van Essay Reflection

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle is a novel that details Sean Phillips’ journey before and after attempting suicide to deal with his own psychological problems. Writing my Wolf in White Van: Loneliness, Trauma, and Coping” essay allowed me to explore, reflect, and rethink my understanding of Sean’s suicide attempt not as an attempted escape but a definite cure to the struggle Sean endured alone with his own destructive and disturbing thoughts.


Wolf in White Van is not only a novel about trauma, but also about healing. To investigate the novel through writing, I am able to understand the prompt well and analyze the plots of this book and dig the meaning under it.

After reading through the peer review of my essay, I revised the previous draft and add more details and explanations for some quotes to make the essay flow better. The revising process helps me to make up some points that I missed in the last version. In addition, reading the book the second time helps me to understand the book in depth. In the revised version, I made an argument that both of Sean’s physical and psychological trauma are not recovered or healed through the game, Trace Italian.

For more details, please read my essay on my website.


Wolf in White Van Essay Reflection

For most of the semester we were playing different games and would reflect on our thoughts during the game and how it made us feel. Wolf in White Van at times is like Sean’s reflection on his time playing/creating Trace Italian. Trace Italian was Sean’s escape from the real world and it was interesting to investigate that claim further while writing this essay. Prior to writing the essay I did not pick up on the connection between the structure of Trace Italian and Sean’s own life. For the essay I examined the book much more carefully in order to collect meaningful quotes to support my argument. Through doing this I picked up on much more than I would have by just reading the book. Really at times this book was confusing to read because of its lack of a clear timeline but going back helped to show the differences between Sean’s mindset before the accident, right after the accident and at the current time. I was able to see how his relationship with Trace Italian changed throughout these periods of time. It began as a fun idea while he was in a dark place, then became a tool to help him cope with his recent trauma and lastly he was so involved with the game that he lost contact with the real world except for through contact with his players.

Take a look at my final draft here!

Reflecting on Wolf in White Van…one last time


Image by flickr user Mathias Appel

My analysis on Wolf in White Van went further than the assigned topic. This novel further taught me the importance of games in life, outside of the realm of entertainment. This whole semester I have become more open to what a game can actually do. It can be and is more than a mindless game; it can tell a story and deliver messages in a platform that has several advantages over regular text. Although a fictional novel, Wolf in White Van showed me an application of games in real life. Sean relied on Trace Italian to help him cope after his accident. The whole novel served as another example of the significance of games. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and it was quite a refreshing read. In my final draft, I quoted another student’s paper to support my argument and made minor adjustments to my overall argument.

You can read my revised argument here.

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