The cycle of life drives each individual to pass through different stages until finally reaching adulthood. All the ups and downs, experiences, learning, standing up for him/herself , are steps into reaching the final product : maturity. A coming of age process of a protagonist, a dunce who is heading up to this world to seek for his own destiny, his future looking for answers, and going through various types of experiences. But what drives a youth to take this risk ?
There must be a reason for an individual to take such a journey at a young age, and usually and most probably it is an emotional loss, this can be described as something spiritual or in the form of an individual. This protagonist is heading for his maturity, to reach it, he will gradually go through steps that present difficulties he has to face. This lad is wanting to be accepted by the society he lives in as the mature individual he is seeking to achieve. The change a person undergoes to attain a perfect transformation from a youth to adulthood focuses on the psychological and moral growth he/she achieves.
The transition of a young man to a man varies in different societies, maturity depends on several factors that differ between societies, some consider sexual maturity as in early adolescence as a sign for maturity, and others take marriage as the conformation an individual takes to prove his maturity, his transition from the dunce he once was to the mature man he is now. The double “I Do’’ is the kind of choice recognized by the law which is the formal union of two individuals mature enough, responsible enough, and aware by the action they are taking, and they go for it.
What circumstances people go through that drive them to step out from naivety to reach adultness which allows them to take big decisions such as marriage ? When an individual pushes himself towards thinking that he is now mature enough to take his own decisions concerning his life and future, he is that individual who has been through a lot of events, through a lot of disappointments and turned out to be unsatisfied with anything he did, or nything he’s been through, and just decides that next step will be to satisfy only he is own needs, without taking into consideration anyone in the surrounding for they were no help to what he once needed. In Nervous conditions the novel, an important topic stands out and that is the danger of Tambu forgetting who she really is, where did she come from, and just get taken by the new life she is offered at the mission. Tambu lives in a society with gender discrimination, she had to be enslaved by the males in her family while her brother Nhamo got that chance to get educated and leave the filth they live in behind.
Dangaremba started her novel with “ I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologizing for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling. For that is not that at all. I feel many things these days much more than I was able to feel in the days when I was young and my brother died, and there are reasons for this more than the mere consequence of age’’ (page:1), form here we can see that Tambu was happy for her brother’s death, not that she wanted him to die, but his death was the only way she can go to the mission to get the education she always dreamt of.
She had the ambition, and the grave to study, what was left is the opportunity, and as soon as her brother died she knew she got that opportunity she was seeking for. Her brother’s death was the beginning of her life changing mission, it was her time to leave the days where she used to carry the pure water for the men to wash their hands with it at first, and then the females of the family are left with the filthy water to use, she was ready and more than happy to leave all of this and go to a whole new place to gain the power she needed to rise, to feel satisfied with the life she was given.
In Babamukuru’s house she was introduced to a new world she was far away than getting, she saw the difference between the females in her hometown and the females at the mission, she saw how proud they were to be women, and fought for their rights , she is shown how to deal with her feminist side and to embrace the fact she is born a female, and most of what she learned was from her cousin Nayasha. While passing through all this kind of struggle, and adapting with her new habitat, Tambu was loosing who she really is, the Shona she is, unlike Nayasha who has nothing to loose of her Shona part for he doesn’t even know it. Thus this forms a great big gap inside of Tambu, the anger she feels and dissatisfaction of the life she has doesn’t do her but punishment for disobeying the authorities who are in her case the males of the family. In the African countries a place where Tambu came from, the traditions of marriage is when the bride moves to the husband’s house, and thus the authority the dad once had on the bride transfers to he husband, from male to male.
In the novel we can see that Maiguru the holder of a masters degree is still under her husband’s authority, and although he gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants by running away, she chooses to come back home showing that she is under the man’s control. Tambu’s coming of age process takes place within the defiance of diverse females in her family against dejection of sexism, and colonialism, and racialism they go through. Tambu at the beginning of the story is a young girl who the life’s requirements pushes her to be very mature due to her situation.
For from the moment she was a young girl she was responsible to take care of her sisters, does excessive chores, worries about her mother and her family in general. She chooses to do extra chores in order to lessen her mother’s burden, in addition to finding a new way by her own to get herself back to school because her father was not going to offer her any help to make it happen. But the time where Tambu showed that she reached adolescent is when she shows hybridity between tradition and modernity, although she got westernized or englishized yet she hold on to her traditions and evolved in society as well.
At the end of the novel Tambu shows that she put he own needs above anyone’s suggestions, and she did what she found suits her best, at that time she chose to go to sacred heart although each one of her family stood against taking this option, but she refused to be sired to the males in her family and chose to do what she thinks is the best for her gaining the satisfaction she was running after, “ in this way i banished my suspicion,buried it in the depths of my subconscious, and happily went back to Sacred Heart. (p:208) And the last paragraph in the novel is the paragraph that shows that Tambu finally got what she wants and started fresh with a new beginning knowing that she is the master of her life, and the one writing her own story in her own way, “ it was a process whose events stretched over many years and would fill another volume, but the story I have told here, is my own story, the story of four women whom I loved, and our men, this story is how it all began. ”(p:208)
The kite Runner unlike Nervous Conditions shows a delayed coming of age story. Amir the protagonist in this story extends his sore adolescence through guilt and muteness until reaching the age of forty and after his marriage is the time where he decides to fix everything he did wrong. The kite runner talks about two friends who are living together Amir and Hassan, where Hassan served Amir and loved him enough to do whatever he asks him to do, he gave Amir everything while in return he got nothing but trouble.
Hassan and Amir at first lived as two little innocent kids looking for journey and experience, the difference between the two was that Hassan was ready to do whatever Amir wants from him due to the love he feels towards him, an loyalty to his one and only friend, but on the contrary Amir was selfish and self-centered all his thoughts was only about him, he never cared about anyone but himself and his biggest struggle was to please baba, who was harsh on him to drive him to be a man. “I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be.
I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan-the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past-and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end, I ran. ”(p:84) , the moment Amir said those words was the most he admits his selfishness, coward, lack of innocence, and what a backstabber he is. When Amir accuses Hasan for stealing his watch although Hassan never did so, he took the blame because he knew that this is what Amir wants so he just did it, and that caused him to leave Baba’s house, and find his own way with his own father.
Later on Amir and Baba traveled to America due to the war Afghanistan is going through, years later in America Baba dies, and Amir marries Soraya a girl who taught him courage and to be bold, things he doesn’t have yet he wishes he did, he hopes to be as courage as what Soraya has shown him. When Amir gets a call from an old friend of him telling him to come back to Afghanistan and that there is a way to be good again, Amir took the choice of going, at that moment Amir decided to step out of his bubble, be mature, and correct the mistakes he had done.
He went back to Afghanistan, looked for Hassan and felt devastated to know about Hassan’s death, so he made his life mission to look for his son and take him under his care. He sacrificed himself to rescue him from the people who owned him(Assef), then took him back with him to America and treated him as if his own, for Amir had figured out that he’s unable of having children. And continued his life serving Sohrab ( Hassan’s son) the way Hassan once served him, where at the end of the story he repeats the words Hassan used to tell him “ For you a thousand times over,”(p:401).
What’s different in this story form other coming f age stories that he reaches adultness after getting married due to what his wife showed of honesty ,courage, and boldness he never had. And unlike Tambu, the ambition and sexism she went through in her life is what pushed her towards growing maturity in a young age, while Amir his guilt and silence are what drived him to maturity but at a delayed time form that of Nervous Conditions.
In the third novel Beasts Of No Nation, the protagonist is a seven year old boy named Agu . Agu is just a kid who doesn’t know what to do , and has no one to guide him through especially, after ending up between a group of people who claim to be soldiers , this seven year old kid has no choice but to do what they tell him in order to fight for his life , so being forced to kill someone or otherwise you die, these are the two options a seven year old was facing, this is what drives a kid to grow sooner than expected.
This youth who was lost, confused and has no idea what to do or where to go, and finds out that his destiny is chosen for him to join a group of filthy terrorists claiming that what they do is helping the villages from sinking. This choice that was obliged on him took him away from the life he was happily living in, stole his dreams away and placed him in front of war and killing. “ I was having many friends in my village because all of the other children were that I’m a nice boy , and also I’m the best at all of the game and all the lesson we are learning.
So they are all liking me and wanting to be my friend …. ’ ( p: 29 ) The childish language he uses, the improper english, all shows the innocence of a child, you can almost see a normal kid , dreaming , and just having fun , to an extent that you’d never think he could kill , and how about killing and loving the pleasure it brings? The first time the Commandant orders Agu to kill someone Agu struggles of what he needs and what he has to do, he doesn’t want to kill the man, but either the man dies of he does, it is a battle for fighting for his own life, “Then I am hitting his shoulder and then his chest and looking at how Commandant is smiling each time my knife is hitting the man.
It is like the world is moving so slowly and I am seeing each drop of blood and each drop of sweat flying here and there. I am hearing the bird flapping their wing as they are leaving all the tree. It is sounding like thunder. I am hearing the mosquito buzzing in my ear so loud and I am feeling how the blood is just wetting on my leg and my face” (p. 21). And then the maturity he reaches was shaped in the fact that he love to kill later on, loved the excitement and pleasure it gets, “I am raising my knife high above my head.
I am liking the sound of knife chopping KPWUDA KPWUDA on her head and how the blood is just splashing on my hand and my face and my feets. ” ( p: 51 ), this is the moment when Agu was brainwashed to form a spirit with the love to kill in a little boy’s body. This transition Agu undergoes from the innocent child with dreams and ambition he once was to the killer in a seven year old boy body he now is, shows how the path he took was the one he was forced to take, pressured him into being the way he is now.
The life situations of leaving his family and being pushed into a group of gorillas who claim to be soldiers made a little boy form victim to a murderer, but then when the time was for him to be rescued he recalls all the dreams he had, the family he loved, and the little boy he didn’t have the chance to be, and decides to be good again, but he knows he cannot get back to the child life he had, but he can still be good, for all the events, the war, the commandant, the soldiers, forced a little boy to grow too early,”I am knowing I am no more child so if this war is ending I cannot be going back to doing child thing. The three stories each talk about a protagonist who is forced to grow into maturity because of a certain life situations he/she faced. Tambu faced the situation of racism, sexism, and colonialism which pushed her behind chasing her dreams and her ambitions. Amir had a delayed adolescence but the guilt he was full with is what made him correct the mistakes his naivety made him do.
And Agu the seven year old never knew how a child life is, and all he faced was war, orders, killing, and had no other choice but to do what he was forced into, and thus this child no longer exists, but a man in a child’s body is now found. The coming of age process of these three different characters follows the bildungsroman genre of how a protagonist through experience and socialization moves from naivety to maturity, in other words defining what a bildungsroman is all about, the moral and psychological growth of the main character.