The Men from the Boys: Rites of Passage in Male Americaby Ray Raphael
In other times and places the passage from boyhood to manhood was dramatized and facilitated by initiation rites. In ritualized fashion, the complex problems of personal development were translated into clear and concrete tasks. But in the dazzling variety of modern America there is no universal test or ceremony that bestows manhood: each male must find a group with its special initiations, or devise an initiation of his own. He may climb mountains, play football, join the army, pledge fraternities, impress the girls, and get drunk with the guys. But where do these free-style initiations lead in the end?
To find out, Ray Raphael conducted in-depth interviews with one hundred American males ranging from a Mr. America body-building to a practitioner of witchcraft, from a “right stuff” fighter pilot to a draft dodger, from a self-proclaimed Don Juan to a “superdad.” The Men from the Boys is the first and only book-length study of contemporary simulations of classical male initiations.
The results of this study are unsettling. Initiations today function more as tests to determine who can make the grade than as educational tools that encourage the development of all young men. In the absence of inclusive rituals, Raphael’s subjects struggle to overcome doubts as they negotiate their own paths to maturity. Their personal tales, told with dramatic and emotional intensity, speak to all American males who find themselves torn between a unisex modernity and more archaic notions of masculinity.
- University of Nebraska Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.38(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Meet the Author
Ray Raphael, who teaches part-time at the College of the Redwoods, is the author of Edges (1986), Tree Talk: The People and Politics of Timber (1981), The Teacher's Voice (1985), and other books.
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