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The Sky is Gray and Mr. Parker

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The Sky is Gray and Mr. Parker "You are not an adult until you prove it." Frank Moore Riley, a philosopher, asserts his theory that one is not considered a mature individual until they personally demonstrate to others that they are one. In the short stories, The Sky is Gray, by Ernest J. Gaines and Mr. Parker, by Laurie Colwin, two young children are desperately attempting to prove their maturity to society. In The Sky is Gray, James, a young black boy, tries to convince his mother that his tooth is not bothering him so she will not have to spend money on him when it is already so scarce. In Mr. Parker, Janie, a young girl, constantly strives to act like an adult and be regarded like one, but her parents always carry the image of a little girl in their minds. Social class and standard affect the coming of age in anyone. If one is wealthy, he can prove his maturity by buying and using expensive materials. If one is less economical fortunate, he could show his development through personal independence. In both The Sky is Gray and Mr. Parker, James' and Janie's social classes affect their behavior during their time of adolescence, which directly impacts the pathway each reach to adulthood. ...read more.


Janie exclaims this because all of Mrs. Murchison's students play music from "Little Classics for Children" (Colwin 70). This book, in Janie's mind, is a symbol that proves Mrs. Murchison does not believe her pupils are mature enough to play other, more decorated pieces composed by Bach or Beethoven. Moreover, James and Janie do not realize that they are indeed adults by being in a different society. They are only considered "grown-ups" by a selected few of their social class. Since James and his mother do not have enough money to ride a bus home, they decide that walking was the only solution. Since it was very cold outside, James turns up the collar of his jacket to keep his neck warm. However, when his mom sees what James has done, she scolds, "You not a bum, you a man" (Gaines 348). If James' family were wealthier, they would not need to walk home. Furthermore, James' mother would not have the opportunity to reaffirm that James is indeed a man, not a bum. In the same way, Janie would not have had the chance to hear Mr. Parker praise her musical talents, if her family could not afford piano lessons in the first place. ...read more.


For example, whenever Janie is with her piano teacher, she treats him with respect. When she gets home to her parents, she treats them with a lot of impertinence because they will not let her take piano lessons with Mr. Parker. Similarly, James does the same thing. To rudely talks to a girl he meets on the bus, thinking that "I [James] don't want have to bust her in the mouth" (Gaines 329). To his mother though, he speaks to her with great admiration. Without a doubt, the coming of age is very frustrating, but is an integral part to adolescence. Numerous children attempt to act like an adult just so they may earn the respect from other adults. In The Sky is Gray, by Ernest J. Gaines and Mr. Parker, by Laurie Colwin, James and Janie are no exception. Their thought process, social standing, and personality are the key aspects that influence their pathway to maturity. In "Life and Letters of Thomas Huxley", Thomas Huxley says it best: "The rung of a ladder is never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher." As James and Janie's foot rested on their childhood, they constantly attempt to discover adulthood, a desperate search for the next rung in their ladder of life. ...read more.

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