Rites of passage, the journeys that dot the edges of our ultimate quest through life. They are the universal changes that can be as insignificant as a first kiss but with everlasting effects on our perspective on life. Stand By Me is a movie that was first released in 1986 from the studios of Director Robert Reiner. It details the story of four pre-adolescent teens, Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern who embark upon a quest to find the dead body of Ray Brower, a kid also around their age that had been missing from the town for weeks. These friends trek many miles with less than adequate food and nothing but their friendships holding them together. It is during this quest that, after setting out to find the body, finding it and then being confronted by a rival gang lead by the notorious Ace, that they experience a testing rite of passage that effectively changes them for life. This film has incredibly close ties with such rites of passages and allows us to take a back seat and watch how a rite of passage is explored and the effects it has upon a person. These boys are somewhat inexperienced in their life and have never experienced the world and its mysteries, leaving them as a blank canvas for the rites of passages they experience during their journey to paint upon. However, it is to be noted that the rites of passages and the effects they have on the different boys are very different because of the way each individual and the characteristics of their personality choose to explore the rite of passage and the decisions they make there.
A rite of passage is a journey, test, or even an event that most people will pass through in their lives. This journey, test or event often changes the way we think about things on a whole. This is well shown in Stand By Me, specifically by the comments the narrator (an older Gordie) makes throughout the movie. To start, early in the movie the narrator makes the comment that “back then, that small town was the world to us,” however, after returning from their journey the narrator makes the comment that “somehow, the town seemed… different, smaller.” This is a perfect example of how, after travelling many miles and then finding the dead body of Ray Brower, their rite of passage, their perspective on life changed. This in essence is what a rite of passage truly is. There are many different rites of passages, from your 18th birthday and the birth of your adult freedom to the first time you lose someone close to you. This hardly defines what a rite of passage is because a rite of passage is individually molded to each different person, making it basically indefinable. This is also tied in with the fact that a rite of passage has different effects on different people because of the differing personalities of those undertaking the rite of passage.
A journey is always affected by the choices it offers, and our decisions to these choices are always considered in relation to our personality, past experiences or events and our environmental conditions at the time of the choice. This is identical to a rite of passage in the way that within a rite of passage we may also be faced with choices that again we will always make decisions on in relation to our personality, past experiences and environmental impacts. This is again demonstrated in Stand By Me. To start differing personalities between the boys are very apparent and although collectively the changes they undertake are largely the same, for some they are slightly different. Chris probably experiences this on the biggest level. Helped by Gordie through their rite of passage Chris is able to shake off his mentality that he can never be great because of his past, later on the narrator would go on to describe to us how Chris would to do a college course and become quite successful. Gordie also experiences the changes differently due to the recent death of his brother, an event he still has not come to terms with. In this way he’s more willing to stand...
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