Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Pressure for a Man on a Boy

This week in Leo Africanus we continue along his journey. He transitions quite quickly for boy to man. In the sense that he is faced with harsh realities prematurely. Maalouf shows the reality of a poorly matched arrange marriage. When his sister is married off to a significantly older chad of a man. It seemed as though she was married off because the father was more interested in lightening his burden then taking care of his child. Then we watch as the Inquisition forces Leo Africanus out of his home. Witnessing and hearing about such awful behavior is terrible for a small child to bear. Then again Leo Africanus is thrust into school where he applies a ridiculous amount of pressure on himself so he can graduate early.

I just feel terrible for him. I feel as though his childhood was cut short. The way he is passed around from father to uncle to embassy to school and forced to relocate is sad. A child needs to play, laugh, make mistakes, have adventures. But above all, a child has a right to feel safe and secure. It is terrible when a parent neither has the means or the inclination to give their children these opportunities.

At seventeen, he is forced to be a man. While many men and women of our society today believe that at age seventeen they are an adult, more often than not they are extremely unprepared to deal with life.

At twenty-one, I am so afraid of striking out on my own. The idea of failure is a strong motivational factor.

Do you think failure was every a motivating factor for Leo Africanus? Or rather he just knew it must be done and so he accomplished it?

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