Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Rites of Passage, Close Quarters, and Fire Down Below constitute Golding’s A Sea Trilogy. The focus of the trilogy, taken as a whole, is Edmund Talbot’s maturation. Showing Talbot from his departure as a young upstart, sure of preferment and success, to his reflections as an old man, the novels allow Talbot to demonstrate his growth as a human being. Using the literary genre of the sea journal, Golding allows Talbot to speak for himself. Talbot’s eighteenth century prose and his insistence on learning sailors’ jargon lend authenticity to his record of the physical journey, while the content and tone of his journals reveal the results of his psychological journey and growth. In particular, his maturity is revealed in his record of his relationships with the other passengers and the crew and in his comments about himself.
In Rites of Passage, Talbot is a snob, easily impressed by titles, fine clothing, or fancy manners. He holds himself aloof and seems quite self-satisfied, certain of his intellect, his talents, and his future success. Any insecurity is revealed in the obsequious tone he sometimes adopts in his journal, which is written for his benefactor and godfather in England. He is very much concerned with being witty and painting a favorable picture of himself on the voyage.
As part of his commentary, Talbot introduces the other people on board. The passengers include Zenobia...
(The entire section is 1256 words.)
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