Rites of Passage 6th Grade Language Arts
Rite of Passage • A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one stage to another. • Rites of passage are often ceremonies surrounding events such as other milestones, coming of age, marriage and death. • Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions.
Rites of Passage • While a rite of passage can be just about anything, some have stood the test of time long enough to be known, expected, and respected. • Some mark the day when a boy ends his childhood and becomes a man, others may mark occasions of career milestones, religious standings, or social class hierarchies. • While these rites will vary throughout the world, one thing is certain – rites of passage are something we all inevitably go through.
Maasai Lion Hunt • The Maasai are a peaceful people in Kenya and Tanzania, but they still need a way to keep their men on their toes. Instead of using humans as targets for their warriors to hone their skills, they prefer to target lions- and not the sickly, young or female ones. The Maasai Warriors only hunt capable, large, male lions that have a pretty decent chance of winning, and they do it with a spear. Considering the fact that guys on safari with huge rifles still manage to get killed by lions every year, those Maasai Warriors have some guts.
Bar Mitzvah • Jewish law says that a boy should be capable of handling his life as a man at the age of 13. We overlook the importance of this nowadays, but the implications are huge. Once a boy has his Bar Mitzvah, he’s responsible for his own actions, and able to do adult things like get married. We may still largely view teenagers as kids here, but in the parts of Israel where the old laws still have clout, people pay much more attention to this sort of thing.
High School Graduation • High schoolers across America both dread and covet this day. All at once, they’re free from the horrors of high school, and suddenly expected to actually do something. While every study yields a slightly different result, less than half of all Americans both go to college and actually finish a four-year degree. That means high school diplomas are still the mainstay of our educational milestones. Since graduation happens so close to legal age of 18, most of America views it as the crossing point into adulthood.
Poy Sang Long • Young Burmese boys, usually around ten years old, go through this three-day long Buddhist ceremony. They spend most of those three days riding around on the shoulders of grown men, dressed up in full swagger to imitate Buddha, the idea being that he himself was a prince before giving it all up to walk the path of enlightenment. On the third day it all comes to a head when the young boys are ordained and entered into the priesthood, and spend at least one week with the monks. Afterwards, some go home to their families and some stay to become monks themselves. Bet you thought you had it bad when your family dressed you up as a kid.
Walkabout • The Aborigines of Australia take becoming a man pretty seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they send their adolescent boys out into the wild to see if they can survive in the Austrailan Outback, unassisted for six months. During this time they are forced to survive on their own, and spend a great deal of time thinking about all the great big stuff men think about when they’re wandering around a desert. When they come back to their people, they don’t get a merit badge, they get respect.
Hunter’s First Kill • Men have taught their sons how to hunt since prehistoric times, and pieces of that legacy still live today. A hunter’s first kill is a pretty big occasion, usually marked by ritual. While some families have their own rituals, passed down a few generations, most follow the universal theme of “first blood.” The new hunter will mark himself with the blood of his prey, usually painting his face with it, and some even go as far as to drink the blood. Once this happens, the young man can call himself a hunter.
A Boy Called Slow By: Joseph Bruchac
Slow was born in 1831. As a child, Slow did not like his name. His parents named him Slon-he, or Slow, because he never did anything quickly. Slow grew up to become a leader of the Lakota Sioux. A Boy Called Slow is the true story of his life. Slow can only earn a new name by having a powerful dream or by doing something brave. Slow’s father, Returns Again, got his name for bravery in battle. Returns Again can also understand the speech of animals. A buffalo once spoke four more names to him. One night, at the age of fourteen, Slow goes with his father and other men. They are going to take horses from their enemy, the Crow. With only a coup stick, Slow charges ahead of the others. As one of the Crow warriors is about to shoot an arrow, Slow hits his arm with the coup stick. The arrow misses its mark. Slow is a hero. Slow’sfather is so proud that he gives the boy a new name. It is the first name the buffalo bull spoke to him. The new name means “Sitting Bull.” Sitting Bull became one of the greatest Lakota warriors in history.
Comparison • In chapters 10 and 11 of Hatchet Brian has undergone some significant changes. He is growing up and maturing. • In the story A Boy Called Slow, Sitting Bull preforms a deed which is so valiant and courageous that it earns him a new more respected name.
Your Turn! • Write a paragraph in which you describe something you have done or would like to do that would prove you worthy of leaving your childhood behind and gaining new respect for yourself. • Examples: rescuing a cat from a tree, helping your little brother with his homework, babysitting, trophies, awards, good deeds. • Think of a new name to give yourself that describes your worthy deed. • Make a poster of your new name and story. Illustrate it.
Sitting Bull One night, at the age of fourteen, I went with my father and other men. We were going to take horses from our enemy, the Crow. With only a coup stick, I charged ahead of the others. As one of the Crow warriors was about to shoot an arrow, I hit his arm with the coup stick. The arrow missed its mark. I was a hero!