Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

The Dramatic Twist in the Life of a Young Man in The End of My Childhood, a Short Story by N. Scott Momaday

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N. Scott Momaday’s short story, “The End of My Childhood“ depicts a young man who has experienced a dramatic twist in his life, which he refers to as the metaphoric end of his childhood. He is leaving the world he knew in his youth behind to the new world of the military academy and his newfound adulthood. On his last day in Jemez, his hometown, the author ventures to a place he has been to many times. However, this time he views the place very differently than ever before since it is his last time going there. He ventures back to this spot in order “to be alone with [his] thoughts". This reveals that he is a thoughtful young man, and is experiencing an old place in a new way through his different perspective this time. However, when he reaches the familiar mesa he does not take the path he has taken in the past and instead takes a new one on the north end.

This decision parallels the change of his path to the military academy, as well as his change in perspective from a youth to a young adult His taking this new path is also representative of him literally taking a new “path" in life. He remarks how, “it was difficult to climb, and when I got to the top I was spent," and that “I could see the whole valley below, the fields, the river, and the village" (Monday 1). This portrays how the new turn in his life will not be easy and that he will encounter many difficulties. However, he will reap the rewards in the end, After lingering around the area and taking in the views he begins to look for a path down the mountain. When he finally finds one he reassures himself with the remark that, “ it was safe enough.” This shows that the reader is hesitant and that he is not completely confident in what is to come in his new life.

The boy begins to climb down and, as he continues, it becomes harder and harder. Halfway down he encounters a “deep funnel-shaped formation.” At that moment, he “had to make a decision” however, once he looked around he realizes that there “could be no turning back.” This displays that he can not turn back to the safety of his childhood. His inevitable venture into adulthood has hit him, and he will have to evolve into this new change. He begins to carefully make his way down, but gets stuck between a rock. The only thing below him is the ground and the, “forebodingjagged rocks.” He shares how he, “saw with terrible clarity the things of the valley below. They were not the less beautiful.” Here he truly comes to the realization that the era of Childhood has ended, yet the beauty that he experienced in his youth will continue into his adult life. This is representative that everything will work out and be okay. This experience was a pivotal moment in the narrator‘s journey and realization of his situation, which is a metaphor for reaching adulthood.

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