Poem Analysis Of Sharon Olds Rite Of Passage

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Sharon Olds’ poem, “Rite of Passage”, describes the mother’s concerns of the boys at her son’s birthday party. Through the author’s symbols, syntax, and imagery, the speaker asks the reader to contemplate how society expects young boys to be men by being violent and intimidating. In the poem the boys at the son’s party act like generals and are skeptical of each other and try to convince each other that they are the ‘stronger man’. The author’s detail furthers the tension between the tumultuous transition between child and adolescents. As, “They eye each other, seeing themselves tiny in the other’s pupil” (9-10), and “with smooth jaws and chins. Hands in pockets, they stand around jostling, jockeying for place, small fights breaking out and…show more content…
The first sentence (1-4), broken up with an em dash, separates the guest of the son’s birthday and calling the boys “short men”(3). The second sentence is divided up with three commas, emphasizing the rapid flow of the items listed or a quickening of pace. Lines (8, 12, and 22) has italicized words to represent when the boys are speaking. There’s plenty of juxtaposition in the text, as well, probably to connect the work as an ongoing thought/observation. There is a shift between lines (13-14) when the cake appears in the party and the boys surround it. “Rite of Passage” brings to light how much society expects from groups of people. Boys are expected to be stoic, violent, and superior at a very young age. Despite the celebration of the narrator’s son, the boys are abusive/mean towards each other and those inferior, “They relax and get down to playing war, celebrating my son’s life” (25-26). The title itself reminds of the number of transformations we must undergo in our individual lives, how many of those are we expected to conform to the societal norm? To what degree do our peers justify our actions? How much do we actually have a say in our own
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