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Understanding “Rule of the Bone” Novel Essay

“Rule of the Bone” is one of the widely read coming-of-age novels is written by Russell Banks. The novel is written in a striking way as sad tones about the drama of living a life far from one’s family. “Rules of Bones” shows themes of weakness, failure, and the intricacy of leading an honest life associated to gaining total independence as a teenager. Readers of the novel are left with a lesson on the positive wisdom that comes along with optimism in every experience. Wisdom is said to be the quality of being wise and having the knowledge and the capacity to derive benefits from such knowledge.

There are many accounts on how and where wisdom can be taken or learned from. Wisdom can largely be attributed from learning from lessons and practices initially taught to children and developed through aging. Experience is also considered to be the greatest teacher. People easily believe when experiences showed them the consequences of their actions, regardless if the outcome is a failure or a success. The main character Chappie (or Bone) faces a series of distinct events that has taught him to be wise and take an active and independent role.

His transformation is also depicted on how his name evolved from Chappie, to a mix of Chappie and Bone, to totally Bone. The events gradually molded Chappie from being totally dependent to his parents, “semi dependent” on I-Man and to totally independent. The period of adolescence is marked by a conflict between self-identity and role confusion. Chappie is seen as an adolescent who started out as having to resort to illegal drugs and more crimes to sustain his dangerous habit. Chappie and his addiction to drugs is an example of how some people cope with a dysfunctional family.

His family is composed of a nagging mother, abusive stepfather, and friends who are bad influences to him. I would say that Bones gained wisdom from knowing himself through the hardships and trials that came his way. The first few chapters of the novel showed an immature and rebellious character of Bones. Given the circumstances of his family and situation, the reader has their sentiments on Bones at the same time questions why Bones abandons his troubles and opted the wrong way out. At this point, Chappie or Bones turns to his friend for support.

When Russ eventually abandoned Chappie, Chappie showed the readers that he has good intentions and not a bad kid after all. It showed how Chappie gained wisdom when he was partly independent. The self-discovery of the protagonist was reinforced when Chappie or Bones grew closer to I-Man. I-Man was instrumental to the self-discovery of Bones. He shared his insights on being independent most of his life. Bones loses his desire to take drugs when he learned from I-Man’s wisdom. The novel showed a change of attitude of Bones depending who he was with.

When he was with Russ, he was very greedy and would take as much drugs as he can. When he goes to live with I-Man, he slowly loses his addiction and smoked only at certain times of the day. The newfound wisdom of taking drugs out of addiction from taking drugs for relaxation is similar to his friendship with Russ. Their friendship seemed to die when Bones lost contact with Russ and was influenced by I-Man. All of these experiences shaped and developed the wisdom of Bones on life and how he should lead his life.

The type of wisdom that Bones attained is from his experiences wherein mistakes and blunders shaped him into a wiser and independent man. I believe that Bone ends the novel as a wiser and mature person. The concept of teacher and the student is exemplified in the novel. It is therefore important for adolescent to develop friendships having good influence on their lives. The sad and dramatic story of Bones offers a moral lesson to the youth about wisdom and courage. His friends namely Russ and I-Man have contributed to bone’s character and outlook in life.

Russ served as a bad influence that encouraged Bone to smoke pot and go after pleasure. On the other hand, I-Man taught how independent really means by doing something with oneself. Bone defined his life when he was in Jamaica. He became an adult who knows that life is more than getting pleasures. The substantial evidence that Bone grew up to be a mature adult was when he decided to go back to America and finish school. His newfound independence made him a better, wiser person.


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