Rites of Passage
Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of Homer’s classic, The Odyssey, is an enchanting tale, which can be examined using the Gaines novel A Lesson Before Dying, and “On The Rainy River”. There are many similarities between these three books but the transformation to adulthood is a theme that reigns supreme in all three works. In The Odyssey Telemakhos’ transition from a boy to a man can be marked by the following events; a separation, trials of strength, a metaphorical death, guidance from a wise individual, and the full transformation into a man. In the beginning of The Odyssey, there is a separation between Telemakhos, Prince of Ithaca, and his kingdom, which is evident when he sits separate from the suitors. This separation is parallel to the character Grant’s situation, in A Lesson Before Dying, when he, an educated individual, is separated from his uneducated community. The two both know that their life as it is, is not their destiny and they are determined to do what is needed to do to complete themselves. That is when, I believe, they begin the process of their transformation: when they know there is a change that needs to take place. Tim, the character in “On The Rainy River”, also knows he is above what is destined for him and goes on to say “I felt isolated; I spent a lot of time alone,” which describes the same separated feeling possessed by Grant and Telemakhos.
When Telemakhos sits unhappy among the suitors wishing his father would come and drive them away it shows he knows he must find answers about his father to save his kingdom from the suitors when. He accepts what he must do and makes plans to embark on a sailing to find news of Odysseus. To be courageous enough to take responsibility for what must be done shows great maturity in my eyes and is a big step towards manhood on the part of Telemakhos. Again, this can be compared to A Lesson Before Dying when Grant first accepts he will visit with Jefferson. Equally courageous,...
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