Against All Odds

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The loss of innocence and the process of initiation into adulthood has been revered as a rite of passage for men and women in many cultures. It is a journey and transformation from childhood or youth into a young adult, that is almost guaranteed to be fraught with challenge and difficulty, and most likely danger in some form or another. However in all cases, the initiation into adulthood will be the hardest thing that a child has ever experienced, putting their resolve and determination to the test. It is the natural filter that has evolved to weed out the those who are unready or unfit for adult life and the responsibility and competency that is expected of every adult. In both “I Stand There Ironing” and “Barn Burning”, the protagonist of the story eventually finds their way to adulthood by achieving their rites of passage and losing their innocence. Although both protagonist's, Emily and Sarty, not only go through, but triumph in their process of initiation, they do however have drastically different means of reaching that point.

Even though both short stories take place almost a hundred years apart, they have similar beginnings as both stories tell of a child growing up in a desperate family, where they must adopt a higher maturity level that is usually not expected of someone their age. In the introduction of “Barn Burning”, Sarty, the protagonist and narrator, is unquestionably loyal to his family and his father. He is aware that his father has burned the barns of previous landowner's, but has yet to fully consider the moral implications of his fathers crimes. After being banished from their current town, Sarty travels with his family to the next town, where his father has already contacted a different landowner and set up a sharecropping contract. Sarty goes with them, not because he wants to be a part of the employment his father has set up, but because he will accompany his family by default and has probably not even considered the possibility of...
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