Hard Tests of Manhood

“It is de first step into manhood for you. When you are older, de next step is to kill a goat, and den from dere we begin your manhood rites. But dis is de first step.” pg 19

In this quote Elvis’ uncle, Joseph, explains to him his rights of passage in becoming a man in their culture. The first step is to kill an eagle, and then the next step is to kill a goat, and from there the other men in the tribe deem him worthy or not. I my opinion killing an eagle seems much more harder than killing a goat. One is flying and can fly away in less than 2 seconds, and the other is pretty much stationary not even being able to run away, and yet they have him the harder of the two at the mere age of 5, much early than any other of the boys in the tribe. It seems very unfair to me that he should be punished and have more potential to be de-manned because of his mother’s sickness. I understand that with his mother’s sickness Elvis will inevitably have to become a man anyways but to have him fail in front of the entire tribe seems to be a cruelty his father takes pleasure in. His father probably was expecting him to fail and be given a reason to disown him that didn’t make him seem like a horrible father in front of the whole tribe.

The second thing that strikes me, not only in this quote, but in some quotes before, is the dialect of the natives. Personally I have plenty of friends from Nigeria to know that this is really the way people born and raised there talk. I’ve never been able to spell out the way they talk, but the author does a very good job in describing in words and uses the correct letters, so that in my mind I hear the accents he wants me to hear. Specifically most of the “th’s” are replaced with “d’s”.

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