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High School Student

By joshuagaul Mar 03, 2013 585 Words
“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

Understanding Defines Change
Psychologists Scott Scheer, Stephen Gavazzi, and David Blumenkrantz undertook a comprehensive review and analysis of the psychoanalytic literature that discussed the rites of passage in adolescence; from the reading, they derived two truths concerning an adolescent’s rite of passages. Primarily, as Scheer, Gavazzi, and Blumenkrantz state, “Not all transitional events necessarily indicate the occurrence of life transitions” (1); however, “It is believed that both cognitive interpretation and integration are required before the event genuinely becomes a significant transition or rite of passage” (1). Essentially, to label a singular event as one that ignited a life transition, one must understand the resulting effects of the event. Additionally, according to Scheer, Gavazzi, and Blumenkrantz, the event that marks the end of the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood defines the rite. Principally, a singular event cannot accelerate one’s progression into adulthood without one realizing the effects or changes that the event caused. In “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson described the idealistic depiction of the Romantic hero’s rite of passage. Emerson states that “The power which resides in him is new in nature” (1), and he believes that a person should seek the meaning of that power for himself. Emerson’s statement that one doesn’t know the power that they have until one finds it (1) falls directly in line with Scheer, Gavazzi, and Blumenkrantz’s interpretation of one’s rite of passage. Scheer, Gavazzi, and Blumenkrantz postulate that one cannot arrive at adulthood without first understanding a transitional event. Similarly, Emerson reveals, in the quote at the top of the page, that one does not know his unique power until he has tried to find it himself. Likewise, if one didn’t find their unique power, based on the definition given by Emerson, one hasn’t successfully arrived at that “Time in a man’s education” (1), and, thus, has not successfully completed a rite of passage. Therefore, Emerson views rites of passage as events that are intrinsically bound to understanding, and without cognitive interpretation, an event cannot allow one to find one’s unique power, disqualifying it as a rite of passage. The idea that rites of passages are dependent upon cognitive understanding holds true throughout a number of literary texts. For instance, in Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Thoreau details the rite of passage of a king’s son. As Thoreau states, “One of his father’s ministers having discovered him, revealed to him that he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince” (72). Like Scheer, Gavazzi, and Blumenkrantz’s postulated, the son’s discovery alone did not result in the personality transition from that of a forester’s child to a prince. Instead, the son had to realize that he was, in fact, a prince before the transition could completely take effect. Thus, for one to totally embark and complete a rite of passage or a life transition, one must understand the effects of a singular event. (487)

Works Cited
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Self Reliance.” Adventures in American Literature: Pegasus Edition. Ed. Bernard Brodsky. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. 221. Print. Scheer, Scott, et al. "Rites of passage during adolescence." Forum. n. page. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <>. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. New York: Penguin Classics Publishing, 2005

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