‘4 3 2 1’ recounts the life and loss of Archibald Isaac Ferguson

Tiffany Yeager -Staff Writer

Written by Paul Auster, “4 3 2 1” looks into the life of Archibald Isaac Ferguson. This novel goes through the mundane life of a boy growing up in the 50. However, Auster puts an unexpected twist on the storyline. Continually switching between four different, fictional lives of this one man, “4 3 2 1” reveals how the small details of life determine how it all plays out.

Archie is one, singular, human being. He was born by Rose and Stanley Ferguson in 1947. Chapter 1.0, the books preface, tells the origin of the Ferguson lineage. This opening takes us through the family’s history to the birth of Archibald Ferguson himself.

Section 1.1 begins with the first few years of Archie’s life. His family members are introduced, his hobbies and interests are made apparent and you start to learn about his home setting up until he reaches age 7. When section 1.2 begins, you are taken back to the earlier years of Archie’s life again. This new section mirrors the first one, covering the same grounds, however, this time some of the information has changed.

As the book continues, you realize that chapter 1.3 and 1.4 mirror the style of the first section too, with each new part telling a bit of a different story. The storylines stay true to the character’s names and vital parts of Archie himself; however, many of the main points of Archie’s life are different from one part to the next.

In all four scenarios, Archie loves sports. Varying between baseball and basketball, his passion for athletics remains constant in all four of his lives. Archie’s continual interest in pop culture stays true for all four scenarios, as well. He avidly reads, writes and watches films and television shows at any given chance.

Throughout the lives of Archie Ferguson, the details of his families alter. The relationship he has with his parents depends upon the key life details of a given storyline. His mother and father’s marriage is effected by those key details, as well. His parent’s jobs start the same in the four scenarios, but each unique storyline takes them somewhere different. Even Archie’s relationships with his aunt, cousins and grandparents are drastically different when you look at the comparison between his lives.

Archie goes to different schools and colleges following unique passions in each life of his. He falls in love with many different people, sometimes the same person twice, and even struggles with bisexuality in one of the storylines. There is also a constant fight for equality throughout all four lives of his. In two of the storylines, Archie’s life comes to an end; once at age 13 and in another life at age 20.

This novel really makes you think about life. We are all one person with millions of possible roads in front of us. Any little decision could have taken us down a different path, leading us to a multitude of different lives in the grand scheme of things. Being able to look at one person and see four different pathways that his life could have taken really shows how life can change in an instant.

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