Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 562
Below are several examples of quotes from Rites of Passage.
I have resigned myself therefore, used Wheeler for some of this unpacking, set out my books myself, and seen my chests taken away. I should be angry if the situation were not so farcical. However, I had a certain delight in some of the talk between the fellows who took them off, the words were so perfectly nautical. I have laid Falconer's Marine Dictionary by my pillow; for I am determined to speak the tarry language as perfectly as any of these rolling fellows!
The journalist Edmond Talbot is granted the position of aid to the Governor. He is pompous and believes himself to be much grander than he is. As such, he is frustrated that he is not greeted properly for his newly gained position. He is also annoyed at the size of his quarters. Here he is commenting on trying to “speak Tarpaulin.” Though he can't really speak it, his attempts are humorous.
“The place: on board the ship at last. The year: you know it. The date? Surely what matters is that it is the first day of my passage to the other side of the world…”
This is Edmond’s first day on the ship. The reader is led to believe that great opportunity lies ahead. Edmond is looking forward to his journey and the skies seem clear. However, we come to learn that Edmond holds great prejudices and becomes part of a bigger problem.
“…not only favours me with his révérence but tops it off with a smile of such understanding and sanctity [that] he is a kind of walking invitation to mal de mer.
“turning to ascend the ladder to the afterdeck, but seeing me between my young friends, and perceiving me to be of some consequence I suppose, he paused and favoured me with a reverence. Observe I do not call it a bow or greeting. It was a sinuous deflection of the whole body, topped by a smile which was tempered by pallor and servility as his reverence was tempered by an uncertainty as to the movements of our vessel.”
These are Edmond’s descriptions of Parsons Colley. At first Colley seems to be likable to Edmond. Not only that, but the reader is led to think that Colley is laughable. He is clumsy and panting. He seems to be absurd. However, the reader comes to hold great disdain for Edmond and sympathize greatly with Colley. Colley is a man who sees good in the world, while everything is an annoyance to Edmond. Colley is bullied relentless by others and ultimately starves himself.
“They go about their tasks, their bronzed and manly forms unclothed to the waist, their abundant locks gathered in a queue, their nether garments closely fitted but flared about the ankles like the nostrils of a stallion. They disport themselves casually a hundred feet up in the air…”
This is a quote read by Edmond from Colley’s journal. We come to realize that Colley has homoerotic feelings. He describes in great detail the work of the men on the ship. His jolly personality is cast in a new light. Furthermore, we come to learn that Colley stalked Edmond, entering his bedroom while he was asleep and sick. Suddenly it is unclear who is good and who is bad.