Irony In Sharon Olds's Loss Of Passage By Sharon Olds

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Loss of Innocence In “Rite of Passage,” The author, Sharon Olds, introduces the idea that “rites of passage” exist in all cultures. In addition to defining the milestones people celebrate, one’s culture dictates what rituals are used to celebrate these milestones. In the poem “Rite of Passage,” Sharon Olds addresses a boy’s loss of innocence through the use of imagery, similes and irony to suggest that the loss of innocence is necessary when transitioning from boyhood to manhood. The author uses the mother’s interpretation of her six-year-old son’s masculine identity to describe to her reader how his loss of boyhood innocence helps shape his adult identity. The author uses words and phrases to create a mental image for her readers.…show more content…
Often, what Sharon Olds says in the poem is often completely different than its intended meaning. Irony is first introduced in the title of the poem; “Rite of Passage.” The title is ironic because the poem is only about a six year olds birthday and a young boy’s birthday is not usually considered a “Rite of Passage.” The mother uses irony when referring to the guests of the party as “short men, men in first grade . . .” (3-4) It is ironic that the mother using the word “men” instead of the word “friends”. Another example of irony can be found in lines. (9-10) “They eye each other, seeing themselves/tiny in the other’s pupils.” The boys feel as though they are all grown up, but when they look into the eyes of their peers, they actually see themselves as young and weak. Olds use of imagery helps readers visualize a young boy’s physical features as he transitions into…show more content…
Using this literary technique enables the author to show how a loss of boyhood innocence helps shape his adult identity. For example, the speaker compares the boys to a group of bankers, “a room of small bankers” (11) to show the hope the mother has for her son to grow up and be successful. Even though the mother knows her son is growing up, she compares her son’s freckles to “specks of nutmeg on his cheeks, (16) and his chest to “the balsa keel of a /model boat.” (17-18). This comparison suggests that even though her son pretends to have a tough exterior, he is still fragile underneath. Olds compares boys to Generals “ they clear their throats/ like Generals they relax and get down to / playing war, celebrating my son’s life.” (24-26) This comparison shows that aggressive behavior is an inborn trait. Boys are hardwired to show their masculinity and they do this by aggressively fighting to establish their authority. In “Rite of Passage,” the ritual of celebrating birthday allows the reader to see how important the loss of one’s innocence is in shaping their adult identity. The mother feels relieved that her son’ s youthful innocence is not completely shattered The mother accepts the fact that her son’s loss of innocence is a normal part of transitioning from boyhood into manhood and is important in the shaping of his adult identity and sense of
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