Coming of age as in American Rust
American Rust is a novel that demonstrates coming of age of some of its characters. The novel is thus a true coming of age story as the protagonist’s journey is seen developing in spiritual, social, psychological, and moral. The two main characters Isaac English and Billy Poe are having changes in their morals and their naive character is having a change. There are a number of incident that are expressed by the writer Philipp Meyer, which clearly demonstrate how these two characters are coming of age.
The protagonist Isaac England had a vision to change his life together with his close friend Billy Poe but all end up in vain. Once a visionary person, Isaac ended up a guilty and a wandering man. The period during which Isaac Poe lost his dignity, confidence, and acceptance marked his lowest point in life and marked the period where he started coming of age. As years went by, the protagonist lacked peace with himself and he caused the same to his friend Billy Poe. This was unexpected since his plan was to move out of the unfortunate land of Pennsylvania to another city where he could bring changes to his life (Meyer, 2009). The unexpected change in his behavior to abandon his family and never to come back did not bare any positive fruits but instead he came back more confused and despaired than before.Coming of age as in American Rust
There is another incident in the book, which provides support to why the novel is regarded as a coming of age. Isaac English faces a lot of distraction in his life, for instance, he dreams of becoming an astrophysicist but the dream largely appears unrealistic. The situation at home forces him to sacrifice his education to take care of his unreal father who was injured in an industrial accident. He then decided to steal $4,000, which belonged to his father in order to escape to California to get a college that could absorb him (Meyer, 2009). He is indeed exploring unrealistic and ill-defined plans. His morality has really taken a negative transformation and this is what gives us the coming of age. He could be perceived as a morally upright individual when he was taking care of his father. However, he gradually changes and becomes more immoral as he steals the money his father had stashed for his own goodness.
Isaac English is a protagonist who is acting as a sacrificial lamb. After Poe has been arrested for, murder he is later jailed and this makes Isaac to return to his home in order to save his longtime friend. He says that he had shown him how to solve math problems when he was in high school. Another reason that Isaac gives as to why he wanted to go home and offer help to his old friend was to get distracted from his stolen money. This is seen in the following statement that he makes, “It was relief to see Poe, a distraction from the stolen money in his pocket.” He sacrificed the life that he had been longing to have in his entire living and this was by doing away with his college life. Coming of age is observable in his action as he is changing from his academic ambitions to grow as a literate and sophisticated man into a person who cares about his friend. It also demonstrates maturity on his side when he starts to recognize what he did by stealing was not beneficial to anyone (Meyer, 2009).Coming of age as in American Rust
The novel also has Poe as a real protagonist hero who carried the message of coming of age. He is a character of many traits that I would wish to invest my heart in and one kind of a person who is at liberty with snobbery and knowledgeable prejudice. Contrary to what is positive of him, he ends up developing immoral distinctive traits. He ends up being aligned in court and is jailed. This makes him to be faced with a new dilemma and he slowly he increasingly becomes a violent person. His mind changed making him to have a hot temper as well as a person who tends to be in proximity to violence. His character is well described in the following quote, “He lay still for a while and he was shaking, fear or anger he didn’t know. He thought if I don’t beat that guard I got all of them after me, the whites and the blacks both, and the guards won’t care. If I do hit the guard I got the guards and the blacks after me. Except certain guards had side deals” (Meyer, 2009). His moral alteration is a distinguishing and noticeable change that proves the coming of age in the novel.
American Rust with no doubt is a coming of age story as seen in the life of Grace. She was a visionary person but she did not get a college education. She did not get a decent job and at her forties sees that things will only get worse. She accepts the situation as it is and works towards making sure that she leads a decent life. She accepts her situation and works for the best in her life. This is a demonstration of how mature she has become. She recognizes that her looks are no longer youthful as they were some years back.
From the analysis of the book, one can see that all the characters had a good life sometime back. Poe’s prime time was during his high school years as a football star. Isaac as also during his high school years where he had a vision of becoming an astrophysicist and was performing well in class. Similarly, Grace’s peak time was when she was still young and she was still beautiful and attractive. The life of these characters mirrors their town, which has fallen since the economy declined. The future for the town like these characters is bleak and all have accepted the situation and some move out to other cities to find better paying jobs. This demonstrates the coming of age in this novel (Meyer, 2009).
As I conclude, I get to look at the setting of the town of Buell Pennsylvania is seen to be economically devastated. The protagonist character in the novel brings the coming of age theme by deciding to move from this this town to another town of California. They believe their chances of success in California are better than when they are in Buell. However, this does not fall to their plans as things from the beginning start going against their expectations.
Meyer, P. (2009). American Rust. Spiegel & Grau.