Free Literature Review About What It Means To Be An Adult
The idea of growing up elicits various emotions, ranging from fear to excitement of the unknown, or of what is to come when one finally reaches the threshold of adulthood. Growing up into an adult is often described as that part of life when one gets saddled with more responsibilities as with adulthood comes independence. The idea of having more responsibilities is probably that part of growing up which scares most people the most. Adulthood requires someone to be more mature, both mentally and emotionally, and is expected to make his/her own choices in life. Most, if not all, move out of their parents’ house and live on their own. Although one is expected to make a lot of mistakes during this time of life, one is also expected to learn from those failed experiences and exert more effort to guarantee that they won’t be commiting the same mistakes again in the future. However, despite the difficulties that one goes through during the process of growing up, one also has a lot to gain. Apart from the wisdom, the experiences provide a well of opportunities for one to develop one’s self for the better. The non-fiction literary works “Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “The Family of Little Feet” by Sandra Cisneros, “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the poem “Grown Up” by Edna St. Vincent Millay depict how a person is changed in terms of being an adult in relation to the positive and negative aspects of growing up that one experiences.
In the short story “Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian” by Sherman Alexie, the change was palpable on both the narrator and James. The story tells of the supposed mysteries surrounding James’s birth, with his mother claiming that she was a virgin when she got pregnant, and Frank Many Horses professing that he fathered James. When his parents died after trying to rescue him from their burning house, James was adopted by the narrator. The narrator was overwhelmed by this new responsibility, and resorted to playing basketball in order to overcome the feeling. Several years later, when James was already four and he still wouldn’t talk, the narrator resorted to drinking in addition to playing basketball to seek solace. He ended up injuring his knee and was maimed because he did not have the money to get proper medical attention. When his drinking got worse and he got arrested for abandoning James, he was forced to attend Alcoholic Anonymous so that he could keep James. Eventually, when James was almost five, he started talking, and when he did, the narrator figured that he has a lot to learn from James. When James told the narrator that “he and I don’t have the right to die for each other and that they should be living for each other instead” (Alexie 138), the narrator felt renewed and started looking ahead to their future together. The story showed how the narrator and James grew up in different ways, with James who started talking profound truths while the narrator overcame alcoholism and the stress of becoming an unexpected parent. The two went through so much challenges which they fought individually and with each other. In the end they were rewarded with a brighter future, more so for the narrator as he looked forward to learning more from James every day.
While James and the narrator braved and triumphed over the difficulties of growing up, Esperanza in Sandra Cisneros’s “The Family of Little Feet” expressed her ambivalence about growing up. The story tells of Esperanza and her friends finding a box of women’s shoes which they happily tried on and paraded around the neighborhood. However, when they encountered a “bum man with a stoop” who offered a dollar to Rachel if she gave him a kiss, the girls ran away and took off their shoes. The story had a fairy tale start to it, with the lines “There was a family. All were little.” (Cisneros 39). These lines signal the growth that Esperanza and her friends would experience, which they did after they got a taste of the world where grown ups live. The sexual overtone of the bum man was enough to scare the girls off the idea of growing up, and this they expressed by taking off their shoes while telling themselves that they are “tired of being beautiful” (Cisneros 42). From the fairy tale world they lived in, which was expressed through their reference to Cinderella and the “magic high heels,” the girls exhibited the daring and curiosity that characterize a youth on his/her way to adulthood. When a boy warned them about the shoes, saying “them are dangerous” and that they are “too young to be wearing shoes like that’ (Cisneros 41), the girls just ran away. They were curious to have a taste of the adult world, swayed by the compliment given by another boy riding a bicycle who asked them “to lead him to heaven” (Cisneros 41). However, this curiosity was quickly diminished when they met the bum man and heard his offer. In the end, they all decided that they were not yet ready to enter the adult world as no one complained when the shoes were thrown away.
Goodman Brown in the story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne showed how he embraced growing up and the changes that came with it. When he entered the forest and met the devil despite his fear and belief that no good is possible in the wilderness, it was his personal choice that he followed. He kept on thinking about his wife Faith every time he was presented with the temptation to attend the devil’s evil forest ceremony and yet he continued to stay in the forest. In the end, his curiosity got the better of him and he ended up attending the ceremony. This curiosity was the same curiosity that Esperanza and her friends, as well as many other young people, possess that leads them to explore and see what they have yet to see. However, unlike Esperanza and her friends, Goodman was swayed to give in to his curiosity after thinking he heard his wife’s voice along with the others who were on their way to the ceremony. He ended up attending the ceremony where he saw his wife being presented as a convert. This woke him up and made him resist the devil even more, then found himself alone in the forest again. When he came back to reality, he was confused if what happened to him was true or was just a dream. However, he already lost his innocence when he ignored his beliefs and decided to go into the forest. It became irrelevant whether he only dreamed what happened to him or not because he lived the consequences of his impetuous behavior. He lost his wife Faith, a symbolic loss of his faith as well, which he exhibited when he “gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away” (Hawthorne 9). He lived the remaining days of his life without the innocence that he once had, making him a young Goodman Brown no more. Instead, he became “A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man” (Hawthorne 9) who died without a hopeful verse on his tombstone. Goodman Brown grew up into an adult carrying the burden of his mistakes.
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Grown Up” presents the disappointment and exasperation that accompanies growing up. Children are always too excited to grow up, thinking that they would greatly enjoy the freedom that comes with it. The line “Was it for this I uttered prayers” (St. Vincent Millay line 1) expresses how young people would pray for the day when they would become an adult to come, only to be disappointed by the idea of “retiring at half-past eight” (St. Vincent Millay line 4).
Growing up brings about changes in a person. While some get good things from the experience, others end up with the negative consequences of the choices they made. The four literary works highlight the reality of the positive and negative aspects of growing up and how a person is changed by these, thereby presenting the importance of being rational instead of acting rashly. Mistakes are part of the learning process and when taken positively, one may grow into a better and mature person.
Alexie, Sherman. “Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian.”
Literature and Spciety: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2007. 128. Print.
Cisneros, Sandra. “Family of Little Feet.” Literature and Spciety: An Introduction to Fiction,
Poetry, Drama and Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2007. 72. Print.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature and Spciety: An Introduction to
Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2007. 117. Print.
St. Vincent Millay, Edna. “Grown Up.” Literature and Spciety: An Introduction to
Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2007. 191. Print.