“Near tears he watched Beatrice retreat into the house. He looked around for Oye, but she was nowhere to be found. Instead he saw his teenage cousins, Innocent and Godfrey, and a gaggle of other boys ranging from ten to nineteen. This group of young men from the neighboring hamlets had come to welcome Elvis on his first step to manhood as dictated by tradition, and as part of the ritual they would form a retinue of singers. [...] Sunday noticed Elvis’s attention straying and realized that he was looking for his mother and grandmother.
‘It is time to cut your apron strings,” he said to Elvis. “Dis about being a man. No women allowed.’” (18)
This passage from chapter two brings up many of the issues at play in the story as well as topics we have been discussing in class. Primarily, this scene further established Elvis’ relationship with his father. His father is harsh with him even though he is only five years old. His father is trying to force him to sever his dependence on his mother but in later years he will be forced to live without his mother completely. It was brought up early in the novel that his mother died when he was young and he still carries her journal with him. Chapter two is prefaced with a recipe like he would find in his mother’s journal. This enforces his connection to his mother as though the story of his life and her journal are comparable works.
This passage also highlights some of the characteristics of their culture. The ritual that requires the killing of a small animal exemplifies their perception of the importance of masculinity. Also, women are excluded from this occasion showing that there is a clear delineation between the sexes, similar to what we have seen in Persepolis.
This passage also mentions his cousin Innocent. His cousin fought in a war and now screams through the night. This story is told in the same chapter where Elvis is forced to grow up and lose his childhood innocence through the killing of an animal. When Innocent was forced to go to war, he had to kill people, citizens of his own nation, and as a result, is scarred and has lost his innocence.