Sample Book Review on The First Confession by Montserrat Fontes

Initiations/ Rights of Passage

Rites of passage have always been a part of human life. As human beings, we believe that there are many different stages of development and one’s entrance into a stage has to be recognized. These stages of life include birth, adulthood, marriage, and death. In ancient times, celebrations and certain specific ritual also known as rites of passage were carried out. Over time and with civilization, however, most of these practices have been forgotten marked by the recognition of these stages. Rites of passages are therefore important in everyday life, it is through rites of passage that people are able to contemplate, to formulate and reformulate, their ambivalent conditions, (Rites of Passage, 7796). This paper endeavors to show the significance of the transitions experienced by Andrea Durcal in the novel, First Confession and Gordie Lachance in the 1985 film, Stand by Me.

As expected, different people have different cultures and since the rites of passage are associated with the culture, different communities have different rights of passages. What is common, however, is the importance that these rights are before undergoing them, there are certain things in life that a person cannot enjoy or participate in. A girl could not get married for example before she was initiated into womanhood, a man also could not be allowed to marry before being initiated into manhood. The ways in which the initiation was practiced differed though depending on the community from cutting of the foreskin in men, to filling of the teeth.

Both the book The First Confession by Montserrat Fontes and the film Stand by Me directed by Rob Reiner feature children. They show the transition that these children go through as they pass from childhood into adulthood. In the novel, the children, Andrea Durcal and her cousin Victor come from rich families and are spoilt children. They do not give much meaning to the hardships of life and are not interested in hard work because they seem to have all that they could ever wish for. Both children are preparing for their first confession and as such are expected to be well behaved and studying, instead they spend the summer doing mischief and in sin. As she states in the book, sometimes their goal was to do fifty bad things before lunch. These children’s mischief is taken a notch higher when they discover that the wife of a shopkeeper sells ‘touches’ to high school boys and watching her has become a hobby for them (Freeman, 1). This obsession sets off a set of tragic events in both children’s families making them understand the cruelties of life and most importantly, that actions have consequences.

The movie Stand by me is based on the novel, The Body, written by Stephen King. The 1986 film is on four children all from weird backgrounds who set off to find the body of a boy who was run over by a train so that they could be crowned local heroes and from their background, this is very understandable. The boys background leaves a lot to be desired, Gordie comes from a family where his parents clearly favored his late elder brother, his friend Chris Chambers comes from a family of criminals and alcoholics, in fact most of his life he has been stereotyped because of this. Teddy Duchamp has a scar on his ear, which he got from his mentally unstable father who burnt him using a stove, and Vern Tessio is overweight and therefore often ridiculed and made fun of. The hike that they embark on is filled with misfortune but they finally find the body only to have a group of bullies, try to take the body from them. Gordie then decides that no one will receive honors finding the body and places an anonymous call to the police telling them where the body is.

The childhood lives of both Gordie and Andrea are filled with occurrences that usher them into adult life. The decisions they have to make as children have a bearing on the type of people that they become. The life of Andrea takes a new turn when she discovers the sin committed by Don Pancho’s wife, Armida. Watching this occur gives her a thrill and being as mischievous as she is, she devices a plan. Reasoning that since the money that Armida gets from selling touches is gotten in a bad way, it is bad money, Andrea and her cousin decide to steal the money and use it to help the poor children, buying them presents. This is the beginning of her initiation, a decision that brings about lots of tragedies in her young life, it loses upon the world the demons of violence and revenge, (Freeman, 1). His friends on the other hand look upon Gordie to make decisions early in life. His initiation begins when they decide to go on a hike to find the dead body. After an attack by leeches, he has to decide whether to continue with their journey or to go back home, and when the fight over the body ensues, he scares away the bullies with his friend’s shotgun and decides that no one gets credit for the body. These events directly affect the rites of passage of these two children into adulthood. The ceremonies that these children go through make them aware that actions have consequences. Andrea for examples witnesses death, beatings, expulsion and she is forced into solitude and silence because though she goes for her first confession she cannot tell the priest the entire truth.

Many different people from the lives of both Andrea and Gordie participate in these ceremonies. Andrea’s cousin and partner in crime, Victor, play an important role in this ceremony. He encourages her on and devices other ways of making their mischief even more interesting. Her father is also an important figure in making her spoilt and is the reason why she becomes a mischievous girl. Her mother and Manolete are also important in Andrea’s rite of passage. Gordie on the other hand has his friends and the bullies participating differently in his initiation. They force him into taking responsibility by looking up to him to make decisions. Gordie’s parents also participate by making him feel unloved and uncared for thus giving him the urge to be a local hero. At the end of the ceremonies, both children grow into mature and responsible young adults with a better understanding of the world. The initiate comes out of the ordeal a different being (Initiation; An Overview, 4476).

 

Works Cited

“Initiation; An Overview,” Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd Edition. 2005. Print

“Rites Of Passage: An Overview,” Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd Edition. 2005. Print

Freeman, Judith. Mockingbird South of the Border. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1991-01-20/books/bk-1018_1_montserrat-fontes