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Olds has set the tone as serious from that moment on, and it only becomes increasing so as we read on.Most of us can easily picture a typical child's party, loud and hyper boys running about, noise and fun and screaming kids and chaos, but this party seems to be viewed differently by the mother. She sees the boys as "short men" gathering in the living room, not as children having fun.In the first line, "As the guests arrive at my son's party" the use of the word "guests", as opposed to the use of words like kids or boys or children, represents a more mature and serious feeling, more so than one would expect at a child's birthday party.
Loss of Innocence in Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds A rite of passage is defined as a ceremony marking a significant transition or an important event or achievement, both regarded as having great meaning in lives of individuals.
In Sharon Olds' moving poem "Rite of Passage", these definitions are illustrated in the lives of a mother and her seven-year-old son.
So by acting like generals the boys feel powerful and mature.
The speaker uses Irony when she says the boys “get down to playing war, celebrating my son’s life” (26). The boys are mislead into thinking war and violence is acceptable.
As the boys threaten and compete against each other a “dark cake, round and heavy as a / turret” (14) lies in the background.
Usually a birthday cake is a symbol of celebration and happiness, but this cake is illustrated as a turret that is dark, round, and heavy.The boys have elevated from mimicking bankers to generals.Generals are highly respected and possess significantly more power than bankers.The boys act like bankers which they view as very serious and mature.Bankers are important and predominantly male so the boys look up to them as mature role models.Unaware that war causes death, the boys play it to celebrate life.Imagery is used to describe to boys appearance and behavior.The mother sees them acting like men, but in the short bodies of first graders with “smooth jaws and chins” (4).As the competition of maturity began to escalate the mother describes them as “a room of small bankers” (11) that clear their throats frequently.The speaker uses metaphors to draw a comparisons between the boys and men.When the guests arrive the mother describes them as “short men” (3) and “men in first grade” (3).