Emma Wellington 10/17/11 Coming of Age EssayEnglish 10/ Weiss Coming of age is a child’s transformation into adulthood and maturity. Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years; we grow old by deserting our youthful years and starting a new as an adult. With coming of age comes responsibilities and the answers to the questions that we have held on to for years. Interestingly enough, the time that this process takes however, is based on a child’s life situations and personality.
Curiosity, losses, events and people influencing them in their young life are some examples of traits that determine the time it takes for this process to occur. The separation of parents also, is a huge contributing factor to the coming of age process. In the novel Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, the movie Stand By Me , directed by Rob Reiner, and the short story Reunion by John Cheever, coming of age is forced upon the young protagonists because of the separation of their parents and the influences that they have had on them.
In the novel Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya, Antonio is the seven year old protagonist. Antonio is greatly influenced by his parents conflicting views of religion which makes it very difficult for Antonio to accept either of their belief systems. Antonio’s mother, Maria, is a devoutly Catholic daughter of a farmer. She wants Antonio to follow her Luna family tradition by becoming a priest. Antonio’s father, Gabriel, is the son of vaqueros, or cowboys. He would prefer that Antonio follow the Marez family tradition of restless wandering across the llano, or long, grass-land plains.
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Another very influential character in Antonio’s life is Ultima. Ultima came to live with Antonio and his family during the summer of Antonio’s seventh birthday. Even though Antonio is very inelegant for his age, and has been moved up a grade, he learns a great deal from Ultima. She teaches him the things that he cannot learn in school or catechism, such as tolerance and understanding, which she explains as two essential qualities of wisdom. She teaches him about nature and the many ways in which humans are connected to the earth and as well as that all things in the universe are connected, even though, he explains, that there is good and evil in the world. By the end of the novel, Antonio has lost much of his earlier innocence. He realizes that it is up to him to develop his own identity as well as what he values as his own person. A decision encouraged by Ultima, nine year old Antonio decides to honor all the cultural and religious traditions to which he is exposed to, by both his mother and fathers families, but also to think for himself as an individual.
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