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Cowger AP Lit 5 November 2013 “Rite of Passage” In the poem “Rite of Passage” by Sharon Olds, the speaker, who is the birthday boy’s mother, observes the guests at her son’s birthday party.The boys are constantly trying to prove their power over the others.
Olds has set the tone as serious from that moment on, and it only becomes increasing so as we read on.
Most of us can easily picture a typical child's party, loud and hyper boys running about, noise and fun and screaming kids and chaos, but this party seems to be viewed differently by the mother. She sees the boys as "short men" gathering in the living room, not as children having fun.
Loss of Innocence in Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds A rite of passage is defined as a ceremony marking a significant transition or an important event or achievement, both regarded as having great meaning in lives of individuals.
In Sharon Olds' moving poem "Rite of Passage", these definitions are illustrated in the lives of a mother and her seven-year-old son.
Boys are given toy guns and other war related toys that makes war and killing seem exciting.
They see war as merely fun and games and don't understand the real life consequences of war.The mother sees them acting like men, but in the short bodies of first graders with “smooth jaws and chins” (4).As the competition of maturity began to escalate the mother describes them as “a room of small bankers” (11) that clear their throats frequently.They copy these behaviors because they want to seem more mature.While the boys act like bankers they “fold their arms and frown” (12). As earlier stated, a rite of passage is an important ceremony or a life changing event.Thus, we can infer that the poem's meaning will be important and serious.So by acting like generals the boys feel powerful and mature.The speaker uses Irony when she says the boys “get down to playing war, celebrating my son’s life” (26). The boys are mislead into thinking war and violence is acceptable.As the boys threaten and compete against each other a “dark cake, round and heavy as a / turret” (14) lies in the background.Usually a birthday cake is a symbol of celebration and happiness, but this cake is illustrated as a turret that is dark, round, and heavy.