Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds

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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 over celebrate his birthday, one might be automatically compelled to say the rite of passage is for him, however with a closer analysis of the poem in its entirety, one can argue the title and the plot hold deeper meaning.

The first indication that this party is just as much for her, the mother of the birthday boy, as it is for her son comes in the opening line of the poem when she said, "...guests arrive at my son's party," rather then stating his name, she refers to him as, hers throughout the poem. This releases a very possessive tone over her presentation of how she is describing the play by play action of her son's birthday party. Another example to support the fact that she is celebrating her rite of passage also can be viewed in the first line when she calls the people arriving at the party as, "guests." Her son is six years old, and n...

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...I know some students in the class took that line literality, as in they where going to murder the two year old but they simply were using the terminology from the eighties and meant they could all beat up a two year old, which showed them all something they had in common.

From being small but meaningful and a key asset to horse races, as a jockey to being wealthy and admired, as a banker, they have since graduated to the highest coveted and decorated profession, "Generals." The speaker now sees her son as a General in the military, because he took charge at his party and led all of the six and seven year olds to play.
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