Essay on ‘Boyhood’ by J.M. Coetzee – Literature Essay
Title: After studying Boyhood by J.M. Coetzee, would you say that childhood, and especially the end of childhood and the beginning of teenage, is always a happy moment in one’s life ?
Every one has to pass this proof in his/her life and it’s a special moment because you ask yourself on things you had never thought before. Your body and your mind are also changing. We can ask ourselves if the end of the childhood is really a happy moment in one’s life and, if it isn’t right, what are the reasons of that ? We’ll use the book ‘Boyhood’ from J.M. COETZEE to analyze and understand that part of life as well as possible.
That periode can be difficult because you don’t know where you are going to. You know that you anyway have to live that part of your life but you don’t know how it’ll happen. You also feel different from other people because you start taking care of your appearance and of what the others are thinking of you, your manners, your look, persuaded that everyone is watching and will judge you on the first thing wrong you’ll do. For example, in the beginning of Boyhood p.7, John would like to be beaten only once to become a normal child. He isn’t thankful to his mother for not to give him a ‘normal education’. He feels different from other boys and would just like to look like them. Or p.9 as he doesn’t want to wear shoes to be like the others. Then his feets hurt and he’s expecting some support from his classmates, but he only gets mockeries. So it’s his mother’s mistake, to send him to school with shoes. You also ask questions you never asked before, with answers you often aren’t satisfied, as John asks his mother p.13 about who she does love the most, him or his brother. What she answers:’ I love you both the same.’. That doesn’t make her son happy because he was expecting a precise answer.
John himself doesn’t think that childhood is a moment of joy in one’s life. On p. 14 it’s written:’Nothing John experiences leads him to think that childohhd is a time of innocent joy but a time of difficult examinations.’ It also can be a stressful moment as you’re thinking of existantial questions, like: how and where would I be if my parents didn’t get married together but with another person? You realise that people aren’t anymore as nice as before. The examples p. 15 and 19 prove it: john thinks he’ll be given a second opportunity to light a fire and to choose an other religion just to try to be like the others but he isn’t. Nevertheless you can also have fun as John enjoys more and more playing cricket but he feels alone like p.28:’ a spider in a hole, shutting out the world, hiding.’
At the age of john, you start knowing what is realistic in true life and what isn’t, like p. 33 (bottom) as John wants to ‘put aside the fantasy and do realistic things’ like growns-up do. During that periode you are also thinking of the importance of what you’re saying and doing and its consequences, what can make you sad. John is precisely in this situation p. 29 35 and 151 as he learns to be more prudent on what he’s saying not for the others to laugh at you and behave as normal (= like the others do) as possible. Your look becomes important for you (p.44) and you don’t want to keep the same habits that could remain your childhood (p.49: John doesn’t want to call his mother in public as he does at home because to him it isn’t a normal thing and he wants to be normal). Later you think ask yourself what is desire used for. So does John p.56 because he thinks he starts feeling it. You can be easily influenced, what can be dangerous because you’re ready to believe nearly everything what one tells you, like John p.69 when he’s afraid of african boys because of rumours he had been told. You don’t like the same things as if you were a child because your mind is changing.
What you liked as you were small seeme you ridiculous now (p.70: John doesn’t like anymore the comics he thinks are for babies, now that he’s becoming a grown-up). Or p.144 as he thinks he has wasted his time riding bicycle and playing with his mecano because they aren’t interessant. It isn’t his activities that have changed but his mind. Now he prefers to spend hours in the bathroom, examining himself in the mirror, not liking what he sees (p.144) or play cricket. During that periode, you may be more easily irritable and think that your parents are old enough to do things they ask you to, and consequently refuses to obey. For example the habits of other people can disguss you, for example as John hates his father’s personal habits (p.43). That can make your parents angry and your relationship with them can become worse during that periode of your life.
At the end of this passage of your life, your feelings for the people of the other sex starts growing and you think of the meaning of love. For John, that starts p.95 with his cousin Agnes. Later, p.121, he thinks of the word ‘love’ and its meaning. Because he only knows this feeling by the television and not really, he finds it disgusting. He also hates to be kissed by girls and doesn’t know what to do with his mother’s feelings to him (love, p.122) and thinks his parents don’t have love stories since he was born. And during the pause, they John and his friends are always speaking about sex, and John brings a book about sex to school. Children are often afraid because becoming a grown-up means that your mother won’t protect you anymore and you’ll stay alone against every problem that can occur in one’s life.
As a conclusion, we can say that the end of childhood isn’t a part of pleasure and joy in one’s life, principally because too much new things come to you at the same time and you aren’t mature enough to face it. You pass through different states of mind that can make you loose some friends because you don’t know how to react to all of these new things, what to think about this new feeling that is calling ‘love’ and you may often panic, what can make you sad like John.