Why is the narrator's age at the time of the story significant? what aspects of adult society has he already begun to question?

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The boy who narrates “I Want to Know Why” by Sherwood Anderson is fifteen at the time of the story’s action and almost sixteen when he recounts the story. His age is significant because he is old enough to understand much of what adults do, but he is...

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The boy who narrates “I Want to Know Why” by Sherwood Anderson is fifteen at the time of the story’s action and almost sixteen when he recounts the story. His age is significant because he is old enough to understand much of what adults do, but he is missing some key understanding that comes with maturity and life experience. He has already begun to question why certain jobs are only for certain kinds of people (for example, only black men can be stable hands), and he is definitely feeling rebellious against the grown-ups when he gathers a group of his friends to sneak off for six days to the races in Saratoga.

Throughout the story, the boy alludes to a terrible thing he witnessed on the trip to Saratoga that he needs to tell us about. The incident he describes is about a man he looks up to, horse trainer Jerry Tillford, drunkenly visiting a house of prostitution with some other men. The boy watches through the window as Jerry boasts about himself to one of the sex workers and then kisses her, and the boy is absolutely repulsed by this action. His thinking at his young age is very much rooted in a good/bad dichotomy. The boy does not understand how someone he thought was good, kind, and accomplished could wind up doing something he believes to be bad. The story ends rather ambiguously with the boy still unsure how to process what he witnessed.

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The boy is old enough to start thinking about the world of men but not quite old enough to be one of them yet.  He is outside watching from the bushes as the men go into the house with the "bad women."  He sees from a distance the way that men that he looked up to so much can go from being a part of the beautiful and honest world of horses to something that disgusts him and fills him with rage and a murderous desire.

He sees someone like Jerry who can train a horse and watch him run a world record in the mile and then go and take all the credit for it and hang around with "bad women" and be low and lack honor and the cleanliness that he admires so much about the horses and their world.  He wonders how a man can seem honest and true and hardworking and then change and be drunk and low and mean the same day.

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