In A Generous Man, Milo comes of age. This development in many ways is the subject of the novel. As the title implies, Milo learns to become a generous man: “generous” as that term applies to adult relationships and a “man” as the word connotes maturity rather than chronological age. Milo learns to give as well as take in his relationship with Lois, and he learns that manhood has little to do with years.
Although Price compresses time to allow hours to stand for months, so that by the end of the novel Milo has developed several years’ worth of maturity, the independence of maturity from chronological age is not farfetched. At the novel’s beginning, the reader meets a cocky, swaggering Milo, proud at having “conquered” his first female. The protagonist thinks that his sexual initiation has made him a man. What Milo does not know, and what Lois cannot teach him, is that the mature male both gives and takes. Frustrated that her lover seems interested only in taking, Lois continually emphasizes the necessity to “give” in a relationship. At the novel’s beginning, Milo tries to arrange another meeting with Lois. His clumsiness upon their initial encounter brings this reply from the girl: “Wait till tonight—what for, I ask you? Forty-five minutes in dirty pine straw with a teen-age farmer that I’ll never see after sunup tomorrow? If that’s all you’re offering, if that’s all you’re hauling me round town for, you can keep it, boy.”
Using this same rebuke as a stepping stone, Milo sets out on his quest for self-understanding, his rites of passage, in the form of the search for the missing trio. By juxtaposing Milo’s actions to those of the “older, more experienced” men in the posse, Price shows Milo learning and growing. A vivid imagination haunts the protagonist, making him question his constant desire for sex and forcing his conscience to...
(The entire section is 785 words.)