Coming of Age
A key characteristic of the particular community Lowry has created is the annual ritual in December when each year group, en masse, is declared one year older and given commensurate privileges and/or responsibilities. At the age of three, all children begin participating in the daily routine of "dreamtelling"—the requirement that, at the breakfast table, they describe the dreams they have had the previous night. It is also the age at which, educationally, the correct use of language is inculcated, regardless of individual development or speech skills. (Asher, who has specific problems with what educationists now call "word retrieval," has a good deal of trouble with this regime.) Up to the age of six, children wear jackets which fasten at the back. When they become seven they are given a front-fastening costume, as a mark of increasing independence. At the age of eight their "comfort object" is taken away. They are given another new jacket, this time with pockets: to indicate that they are now considered responsible enough to look after small belongings. And they must begin doing voluntary service outside of school hours. At the age of nine, girls remove their hair ribbons, and all children receive their own bicycle. At ten both boys and girls have their hair ceremoniously cut, and at eleven boys are given long trousers and girls "new undergarments."
But by far the most important rite of passage, and the one Jonas is in a...
(The entire section is 2021 words.)
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