Definition Essay on Coming of age Essay
Coming of Age is a process whereby an adolescent becomes an adult. It is a time of transition that is celebrated in cultures throughout the world. The age at which this transition takes place varies throughout the world and can be anything from 16 to 21. The media has begun to make use of this phrase to develop a character such that a valuable lesson is taught and the character is shown to mature and begin a new phase in life. In S. E Hintons book ‘The Outsiders’, we see how fourteen year old Ponyboy Curtis in two weeks changes his whole outlook in life and becomes a mature adult.
The story revolves around the friendship and the enmity of two rival groups the Greasers and the Socs. The Socs are the rich kids who drive convertibles and have girlfriends they flaunt in their cars. The Greasers on the other hand are poor kids who come from hard backgrounds. Some of them have resorted to criminal activities making the society believe that all the Greasers are criminals. The group consists of boys from the age of 14 to 18, boys who come from backgrounds that cause them to grow-up to fast.
Hinton uses the characters in her book to develop the plotline and shows how members of the Greasers and Socs initially come out as being people very different from one another. Each of the individuals center on themselves and seem to think that all the problems of life are theirs. However, as the story progresses and the characters intermingle with each other in different ways the realization emerges that everyone, regardless of their position in society has problems. The Greasers are boys who have been forced to grow up too fast, yet while they are doing the jobs of adults they are still immature.
Throughout the book we read words like, `…But then, Darrys gone through a lot in his twenty years, grown up too fast`. (Hinton, Pg. 2) This shows the readers that the boys have a tough life at home. `Darry didn’t deserve to work like an old man when he was only twenty`. (Hinton, Pg. 16) The resentment in these words is clear. The Greasers have a bone to pick with life and this is shown through their actions and the anger that is so near the surface. They think life is unfair and believe they have it bad, not realizing that life is unfair to everybody at some stage and the experiences have to be dealt with regardless.
It is the transition of each of the characters shown through PonyBoy’s perspective that helps the reader realize that coming of age does not necessarily mean becoming older. It is simply a collection of experiences at anytime of life that changes our outlook on life. We see this realization of growing up through words like, `Sodapop… a dropout so he could get a job and keep me in school, and Darry, getting old before his time trying to run a family and hold on to two jobs and never having any fun`. (Hinton, Pg. 43)
These words show that the protagonist realizes that life is not fair and people sometimes have to do things that do not make sense. However, it is the words, `Soda pop’ll never grow up at all. I don’t know which ways the best. I’ll find out one of these days…` (Hinton, Pg. 2) that show the maturity of the protagonist. PonyBoy is living a tough life. He is a painter and a dreamer not someone that mixes well with the Greasers and yet, it is this very difference in outlook that helps PonyBoy come of age and realize that life is tough and decisions have to be made that go against the very of core of a person’s personality.