Critical Analysis essay

6 June 2016

Over the course of youth’s childhood, they will eventually make a remarkable change from an adolescent into an adult, resembling a caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis and emerging into a beautiful butterfly. For years there has been a debate between teenagers and adults dealing with the topic of when teens rightfully become mature and grown up. Henry G. Felsen addresses this subject through telling his own sixteen year old son his opinions and thoughts on this debate in ‘When Does a Boy Become a Man?’. The difference between a boy and a man is not in which one looks like, it is the actions and choices that a man makes which differentiates him from the boy he once was. Henry Felsen has done a commendable job in supporting this theory. He explains what the future holds for these teens that rush into adulthood with the wrong idea of what it is all about.

There is a fable that Felsen uses to back up his theory on how a boy can look like a man but may not actually be a man. The fable tells a story of a donkey who covers himself in lions skin and is overjoyed when the lions do not take notice of him. He even feels as if he is truly a lion. “All went well until evening, when the lions began their customary evening roaring. The little donkey completely fooled by his own disguise, lifted his head and roared with them. What came out, of course, was a donkey’s bray. Whereupon the lions fell upon him and devoured him.” Adolescents have an image of what an adult is to them, which they try to replicate in ways such as smoking, cursing swearing, drinking and dressing provocatively.

Critical Analysis essay Essay Example

Teenage boys act masculine to be seen as a man, while girls dress inappropriately to look like a woman. To the adults in society, these adolescents look like donkeys foolishly walking around in lion’s skin. The images of adults that the youth copy are influenced by a minority of irresponsible adults such as famous celebrities with bad reputations because of their actions Felsen backs up this assumption by voicing “children seem to believe that the way to prove themselves adult is to imitate the unstable, destructive, irresponsible minority”. Teens are misled by these role models, and should alternatively look up to successful people such as athletes or business owners. Instead of trying to look like lions, teens should be the donkeys they in fact are.

Not only do teens portray the acts of irresponsible adults, they also follow the bad choices and actions of these thoughtless adults. Further, these adolescences do not understand how immature these actions really are. Felsen states his opinion that “only a child would maintain- and sincerely believe- that his manhood can be measured by the lateness of the hour his father permits him to stay out at night”. The careless actions teens make can be very dangerous and can lead to very difficult situations, such as trying drugs or alcohol, and reckless driving.

Teens do not realize that the actions and decisions they perform to reflect adults will affect them in the future, such as distancing themselves from their parents, and neglecting school and being destructive towards themselves. In place of these actions, adolescents should focus on their education, engage in sports and activities, spending time with friends, and just appreciating their teenage years. Felsen contributes to this idea when addressing his son, “being a successful boy is the best guarantee in the world that you will be a successful man.” The thing that adolescents do not realize is that they need to be patient. They will grow into an adult fast enough and will soon wish they were a teenager again.

When the misguided adolescents finally see what being grown up is all about, they will be in for a rude awakening, and truly wish they were a teenager again. Growing up isn’t all fun and games, and it does not happen overnight. This is what teens need to understand. Felsen states “time and experience will make you an adult”, this idea is exactly what growing up comes down to. Being an adult, teens need to realize, is about being able to put aside childish and immature thoughts and take on the responsibilities of being an adult.

Over time teenagers will learn that having respect for fellow human beings and being able to handle problems sensibly are the characteristics of an adult. Without this knowledge teens come into the adult world with an absence of education on many different levels, and recognize that they are not qualified for this world. “They are the young, untrained, uneducated, unprepared, and inept people who have trouble finding and keeping the worst jobs, whose hasty escape-marriages fall apart at the first tremor, whose babies often become public charges.” Felsen creates a very realistic example in this statement. A girl marries right out of high school and rushes into adulthood, she and her husband both have mediocre jobs while trying to raise their kids. Finally she realizes she is completely unhappy and sees this is not the life she wants to live. Because of her decisions that she made in her teenage years, she now has to pick up the pieces of her fallen apart life.

One of the biggest changes that anyone will face is the metamorphosis from a teenager into an adult. They not only change appearance but more importantly character. Oprah Winfrey once said “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” This idea is exactly what Henry Felsen wanted to convey in his writing, which he successfully did. It is important to teens to educate before rushing into adulthood to prevent this domino affect that is happening in today’s society. All adolescents need to understand that maturity is not something you see from people appearances, but the actualization of maturity is the result of wisdom acquired though years of experience. It has to be built, not imitated.

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