Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds Who is the birthday party a rite of passage for, the birthday boy or his mother? In the poem, "Rite of Passage," by Sharon Olds, the speaker, who is a mother, goes into detail about her son's birthday party celebration. Let us first begin by analyzing the title of the poem, "Rite of Passage," Encyclopedia Britannica describes a rite of passage as a ceremonial event, existing in all historically known societies, that marks the passage from one social or religious status to another. Given the plot of the poem about a young boy having his peers
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She is seeing her son, in her eyes, as growing-up and when she looks at him she envisions him as a man in his future. The speaker continues to describe all of her son's peers as, "Short men, men in the first grade." She is referring to these children as "men," men is a term used to describe adult males, key word being, adult. As she watches these "short men," and continues to describe them in her living room, "jostling," and "jockeying for a place," the reader begins to get a clear and quite funny image of jockeys or horse riders in her living room picking and poking at each other. Referring to her son as a jockey, is the beginning of many prestigious professions, she envisions her son becoming. Through out history, including the eighties when this poem was written, being a jockey was considered a noble and wealthy occupation. They would mingle with the rich and famous as well as be very popular.
In the mist of these young children bickering, the speaker inscribed a line in the poem which she obviously feels is important because it is the first of two italicizes lines in this single stanza twenty six line poem. "How old are you? Six. I'm seven. So?" This is demonstrating how these young children are interacting with each other and