Coming of Age -- Struggles Term Paper

Total Length: 1063 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Amir's early sense of privilege is lost, but he is also haunted by the way he behaved to a lower-class boy, Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Amir abandoned his kite runner and left the boy viciously attacked. This sense of cowardice in the face of evil creates a negative self-image that Amir internalizes and adopts as a part of his adult sense of self. "I became what I am today at the age of twelve," he says, brooding upon what he sees as his inherently fallen character (Hosseini 1).

Unlike his father, who turns his anger outward towards the Taliban regime, Hassan's adolescent experiences make him ambivalent about his lost, high-class status because of the political revolution in his homeland. On some level, Amir feels it was deserved and a just punishment of his character. Amir comes of age with a sense of loss, or one could say he never comes of age, for unlike Rachlin, he is unable to abandon the past at all, and sees his present identity only in terms of his childhood, not the future.

The protagonist of the film "Sugar Cane Alley," however, does not have the luxury of mentally dwelling in the past, because his present reality present holds little promise for him. An intelligent and talented Martinique boy, Jose is given a scholarship to study in a prestigious urban French school, and is forced to abandon the grandmother who is the only parent he has ever known. At the school, his intellectual legitimacy is questioned, as his authorship of an essay is denied, even by a teacher, who cannot believe that a boy from such a humble background could ever be so articulate.
But even though the film views the education of the young may by his people's colonizers with greater ambivalence than Rachlin views her Western experiences, there is no turning back in "Sugar Cane Alley" to the past, as the death of Jose's hardworking grandmother illustrates. Jose must find an adult self that balances his memories of what he has learned of his African roots with the demands of his new life and opportunities.

Reading and watching these diverse experiences is a coming of age in itself, for it reminds someone from an American cultural context, where the focus is always on the individual, that the stress upon individual development out of a political, religious, or cultural context is itself part of the American worldview and culture. Every adolescent must come to terms with his or her sexuality and his or her relationships with peers and parents. Moving forward into independence and adulthood is a developmental need, as stressed in Rachlin and Amir's experiences, and perhaps a political and economic need as well, as depicted in Jose's life. But the ways one must struggle with this difficult process are always culturally defined, and not simply the result of hormones or adolescent psychology.

Works Cited

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003.

Kandahar." Directed by Mohsin Makhmalbaf. 2001.

Rachlin, Nahid. Persian Girls. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2006.

Salih, Tayeb. A Season of Migration to the North. Translated from the Arabic by Denys

Johnson-Davies. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Sugar Cane….....

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