There are many obstacles that are encountered while in the process of growing up, but most of these obstacles may appear during adolescence. In the three writings “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, “The Bike” by Gary Soto, and “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, there are protagonists who experience the same struggles. These three protagonists, Rachel from “Eleven”, the boy from “The Bike”, and Lizabeth from “Marigolds” suffer struggles with adolescence. In “Eleven”, Rachel does not feel eleven on her eleventh birthday and cries when she is given a sweater that the teacher thought she owned. In “The Bike”, the boy visits the street that his mother has forbid him from visiting, and ends up injured when he allowed another boy to run his leg over with a tricycle. In “Marigolds”, Lizabeth realizes that she must now act mature after her last act of childhood, trampling, uprooting, destroying a neighbor’s marigolds. These three protagonists have experienced and overcame many struggles during adolescence, which means that there were obstacles in the process of growing up that the protagonists would have to overcome.
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The story “Eleven” explains that not feeling as one is not of an older age is one struggle that can be encountered. Right before she recalls what happened during school on her eleventh birthday, Rachel explains, “You don’t feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don’t feel smart eleven” (Cisneros 1). This quote shows that one struggle with adolescence is that even on one’s birthday, one may not feel as they are of the older age, or at least not feel as smart as one of an older age. It takes a great while until one feels mentally older. Rachel feels as if she was not ten but eleven or one hundred and two, at least mentally, she would be able to avoid the incident that happened at school that day. As the incident occurred at the same day as her eleventh birthday, Rachel did not have time to grow mentally, as it takes a while according to the quote. Rachel’s experience is one of the many obstacles in adolescence, but the short story “The Bike” explains another struggle.
The story “The Bike” shows that realizing lies that are told by parents are lies, but not realizing why the parents tell such lies is another struggle with adolescence. As the boy rides his bike to Sarah Street, he boasted, “But I took the corner anyway. I didn’t believe Mom” (Soto 1). The boy is old enough to realize that a portion of the facts that he is told by his parents are just lies to keep him from performing actions that his parents disagree with. Unfortunately, he does not realize why his parents tell him the lies. The boy’s mother does not want him to ride to Sarah Street, explaining that it contained angry dogs, but it is simply a lie to keep the boy from riding to Sarah Street unsupervised and out of sight of his mother. Not knowing why the lie is told, the boy rides to Sarah Street, thinking his mother is simply lying and that there is nothing wrong with riding to the street that he is forbidden from riding to. The struggle in “The Bike” is another obstacle faced during adolescence, but the short story “Marigolds” explains a rather important struggle.
The short story “Marigolds” explains an important struggle: being required to act as more of an adult. After Lizabeth tramples and uproots Miss Lottie’s marigolds in her last act of childhood, she explains, “I gazed upon a kind of reality which is hidden to childhood. The witch is no longer a witch but only a broken old woman who had dared to create beauty in the midst of ugliness and sterility” (Collier 244). Lizabeth finally realizes after her last act of childhood that Miss Lottie is not a witch, but just a broken old woman. As Lizabeth must act as more of an adult now, she no longer sees bullying Miss Lottie with the children as fun, but as a malicious attack. As said in the quote, Miss Lottie just wanted to improve the look of the town by planting marigolds, but the children see that as awkward and out of place. The marigolds are the only objects that keep Miss Lottie happy, but the children, who are unhappy themselves, wanted to destroy them. The short story “Marigolds” explained one of the most important struggles with adolescence.
These three short stories are centered around the same important theme, the struggle with adolescence. The struggle of adolescence means that there are obstacles that must be overcome in the process of growing up. These obstacles include not feeling as if one is older, realizing the lies that parents occasionally tell their children but not why they tell the lies, and having to act as more of an adult. This theme is significant as many children today could encounter the same struggles and obstacles that the three protagonists have encountered. From observing how the protagonists overcame or experienced the struggles, children can learn morals and find out how to overcome the obstacles that they may encounter on the road to adulthood. If children manage to overcome struggles with adolescence, they can grow up with an easier life that is more free of stress. The text from these three short stories are important because of these reasons.
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