By reading a certain print texts, readers are manipulated into accepting or rejecting additional texts. The short story "The Altar of the Family" written by Michael Welding shares many comparisons with the feature article "Boys to Men" written by Stephen Scourfield, and by reading one the reader can make clear understanding of the other. Symbolism, genre and certain values and attitudes are present in both the texts and will be further examined in the following essay to show that a readers understanding of particular print texts is shaped by the reading of previous texts.
By reading "The Altar of the Family" the reader understands that to become a man a boy has to pass certain "tests or ordeals" in order to gain "rights of passage" to manhood. This process is clearly shown in the print text "The Altar of the Family". David, the boy in "The Altar of the Family" is under constant pressure from his father to become "more manly". His father constantly demoralises him and on one occasion brands him a "lily-livered poofter". The symbolism of using such words is evident in this text as lilies are something that David admires yet are extremely "girlish" in the eyes of his father, a man. In an effort to please his father David took it upon himself to kill a possum that had become a menace to his father, this would make him a man, this would grant him his "rite of passage". The possum eventually appeared and was described as David would describe his much-loved lilies, "soft, beautiful, white in the moonlight". The symbolism of using the same words to describe the possum like the much loved lilies shows the reader that it is against David's morals to kill the animal of such beauty but if such a task has to be completed to gain manhood then so be it. Much to his dismay he shot the possum and in his own mind was a murderer but in the eyes of his father he would be a man. When looking for the dead possum the next morning his father greets him by saying, "What've you lost...
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