Throughout life we adapt and change depending on societal norms, our environment, and many other aspects that influence us. Adolescence is a critical time in our lives, where we are first introduced to the real world and prepare ourselves for the future. Whether it be a teen who joins a new group of friends to experiment what it’s like to be an outcast, a teen who runs away and gets out of his comfort zone to figure out how he will deal with growing up, or a hermaphrodite who learns to accept who he is and is not willing to change himself to be normal.
We will always have to be adapt to the situations we are put in and accept who we become. In many works of literature, the adolescent change as they mature and learn to accept those changes through different views of society. In these works, adolescence is depicted as a period of self discovery and acceptance of oneself. In the tv show Freaks and Geeks, a high school student named Lindsay goes against her smart, good girl image and hangs out with the so called “freaks” of the school. Lindsay is known for being the smart good girl, but as she starts to hangout with the freaks everyone’s initial idea of her changes.
At first the freaks don’t really accept her and believe that she is just going through a phase of rebellion, but as they continue to get to know her both Lindsay and the freaks start to understand each other more. In the episode “Carded and Discarded” Lindsay provides money for the freaks to buy fake IDs so that they could go see a band play at the bar. When they get in the bar with their fake IDs they soon realize that the band playing is actually their counselors’ band and Lindsay gets in trouble with the counselor.
Lindsay tries hard to get the freaks to accept her and erase her good girl image and by doing so she goes against her own morals. Throughout the show she struggles with keeping her reputation and has to deal with getting in trouble when she hangs out with the freaks. In the episode “Looks and Books” Lindsay gets fed up with the freaks always getting her in trouble and rejoins the mathletes. While in mathletes Lindsay decides that she doesn’t feel the same interest the mathletes anymore and quits. As a person grows they do not need to do something you do not feel like doing just to impress others or to keep the reputation you may have.
Finding your identity can mean mingling with different social groups as an adolescent and recognizing that you don’t have to be the person everyone expects you be. But not everyone instantly knows where they belong and it may take more than just joining different groups of people to figure themselves out. The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is about an adolescent who runs away to New York to discover who he will become. While most people his age are able to mature and grow up Holden is still trying to figure out how he to deal with growing up when he values youth over maturity.
Holden doesn’t feel the need to grow but whether he likes it or not he is not able to avoid growing up. When Holden checks into the hotel and gets the prostitute, he rushes himself into an uncomfortable situation that he doesn’t know how to handle. While the prostitute named Sunny is trying to do her job Holden thinks to himself, “The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth. She was depressing. Her dress hanging in the closet and all” (Salinger, 96).
Holden rushes himself into situations where he tries to act older or more mature than he really is, but when put into a situation where maturity is required Holden is not able to apply maturity since he is not ready to grow up himself. He is also going through a constant struggle of whether he is ready to grow up and start identifying himself. Many times throughout the book nostalgia saddens Holden and he often contemplates whether he is ready to find his selfhood. When Holden explains about how nothing at the museum changes he explains it by claiming “The only thing that would be different would be you.
Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different that’s all” (Salinger, 121). Holden understands that people change as time goes by, but the idea of changing intimidates him and he would rather avoid it even though it is inevitable. Recognizing who you are and preparing yourself is a struggle and it may take years for one to realize who they are, but once you figure out who you are it is important to accept it and you are not willing to change for others.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is about a hermaphrodite who lives his whole childhood life as a girl but grows up and discovers they are born with both female and male reproductive organs. Cal, who grows up with the name Calliope, is raised as a girl but when he finds out he possesses both male and female parts he decides to change his name and stay the way he is born. When Cal is brought to a doctor because he discovers there is something wrong with his genitalia a surgery is setup to turn Cal into a female.
Although Cal was never informed about the surgery, Cal found out on his own and did not approve of the surgery and runs away to San Francisco. Even though he is given the chance to become a girl as he was raised as, Cal is not willing to go forth with the surgery to permanently stay female. He would rather stay with the gender he feels more comfortable with rather than changing to fit the gender he was raised with. When Cal runs away to San Francisco he meets Bob who takes him most of the way to San Francisco and parts ways with him when he reaches San Francisco.
After being beaten up Cal decides to call Bob, who gave Cal his number before they parted and Cal then starts working at the strip club owned by Bob. Because of Cal’s condition he is put in an exotic show that gains a lot of popularity in the strip club. While working at the strip club he meets Zora who lets Cal live with them. During the first day at Zora’s, Zora explains how hermaphrodites are both looked down upon in some cultures but honored in other cultures. This brings forth a whole new perspective on Cal’s idea of hermaphrodites he then thinks, ” .. Fate or luck had brought me here and I had to take from it what I needed.
It didn’t matter what I might be compelled to do to make money. I just wanted to stay with Zora, to learn from her, and to be less alone in the world”(Eugenides, 489). This is the moment where Cal is fully accepting that he is what he is and it may not be totally acceptable in society, but as long as he is able to accept it himself that’s the only person he will need acceptance from. Even though Cal was forced at an early age to deal with the pressures of becoming normal, he is able to learn how to accept who he is and be able to acknowledge his differences.
Within different literary works the juvenile is in the process of maturing through age and understanding how to embrace new characteristics that are developed. These literary works portray adolescence as a duration of self discovery and acceptance of the person you become. To discover who you are join different societal groups and do things that may make you uncomfortable but also allow yourself to see life in different perspectives. Finding your identity may not always be easy though, you might even never fully understand who you are until you are ready to accept change.
When you do figure out who you are meant to be, accepting who you are and being able to express yourself will be a challenge, especially if it is against what is considered normal in society. During adolescence you are most prone to influences that surround and shape you to the person you become. If you are able to be aware of yourself and accept the person you are you will develop a strong interpersonal awareness that will help you surround yourself with those who encourage your individuality and will help you understand who you are even when you are forced to adapt to various situations.