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Emily Mohr Raspet 7 am March 2, 2010

On Turning Ten and Eleven Compare/Contrast The idea of age and its relation to life are portrayed in both Billy Collinss On Turning Ten and Sandra Cisneross Eleven. Though both passages offer reflective insights, the depictions of the characters themselves have vastly different outlooks on life and the aging process. Through specific literary techniques and devices, Cisneros shows a perceptive and youthful eleven year old infatuated with aging while Collins presents a dismal and maudlin ten year old clinging to his adolescence. Both On Turning Ten and Eleven are written in the first person, allowing the reader to gain an understanding of the characters deep inner thoughts. In both passages, the characters have a profound and mature view on age which can only be expressed through their internal monologues. In Eleven, the reader has unrestricted access to Rachels thoughts and feelings. The first person point of view allows the reader to see Rachels astute views on age while also conveying her inexpressible exasperations at being numerically young. By acquiring the first person point of view, the author distinctly conveys Rachels hidden desire to grow old in order to be heard by the world. In On Turning Ten, the first person point of view is used to expose the narrators ironically realistic view on age in relation to life. The reader is able to clearly perceive the narrators aversion to aging, picking up otherwise unspeakable details of a disappearing childhood. Because of the first person point of view, the narrator can directly convey his infinite,

unspoken sadness of a rapidly diminishing innocence. The narrator personally details his pain and the reader is able to view the solemn world through the mind of the narrator. This feeling of loss and death is a direct contrast to the frustration Rachel feels in Eleven. Where Rachel longs to be one hundred and two instead of eleven, the narrator in On Turning Ten longs for the perfect simplicity and beautiful complexity of being a single digit. Much like point of view, repetition plays an important role in the characterizations in both passages. Both passages place a high emphasis on numbers, though the implications in each passage vary greatly. Rachels repeated mantra of when youre eleven, youre also ten, and nine, and eight, and so forth depict her oddly established understanding that the past doesnt disappear with age; the past and each age along with it are simply another band in the soul. Although Rachel is merely eleven, her depth and understanding is that of a mature adult. The repetition of the numbers in correspondence to age goes along with Rachels desire to be more than the small and insignificant digits. She wants to be a three digit number, because only then will she be wise and experienced in the world. The repeating statement not mine, not mine, not mine stresses Rachels slight immature persona while also accenting her desperation and powerlessness at not being able to articulate the truth. Overtime, Rachels mantra takes on a slight whining tone which is very characteristic of a child who isnt getting exactly what they want. This exemplifies her true numerical age and the price she has to pay at being at an age where experience and respect are notably absent from life. The narrator in On Turning Ten has just as much emphasis on numbers but with an opposite meaning. Where Rachel understands age is a landmark and permanently carved in the soul, the narrator in the poem sees each age rapidly disappearing from the mind and heart as time goes on. The narrator emphasizes the simplistic and enjoyable aspects of being small numbers.

He fears the approach of the double digits, viewing the milestone as a step closer to death. Putting emphasis on the specific ages as he remembers being an Arabian wizard, a soldier, and a prince helps to emphasize his need to cling to immortality and adolescence. Along with numbers, the poem repeats the idea of time and youth as fleeting. For the narrator, this is the beginning of sadness and the time to say good-bye. As he approaches the inevitable age of ten, he comes closer to realizing his own mortality and sees this checkpoint as the beginning of the end. This age is very much the end of silly games and the start of vulnerability. The narrators opinions on time and youth distinctly differ from those of Rachels in that Rachel wants to age in order to gain respect whereas the narrator in the poem wants to be invisible and longs to go back to immortality. Rachels use of similes in Eleven combines her youthfulness with her discerning views on aging. Her uncomplicated and childlike references to her little wooden dolls or the rings inside a tree trunk force the reader to recognize Rachels adolescent soul while also conveying Rachels intuitive philosophy on aging. These similes prove that Rachel is simply an eleven year girl with immense ideas. The narrator in On Turning Ten however, uses complex metaphors to stress the sickening notion of time and age. To the speaker, aging is akin to measles, mumps, and disfiguring chicken pox. These disease ridden metaphors portray the narrators distaste for growing older. The intricate metaphors help to paint the narrators intellectual views on time and aging while painting him as a sad and melancholy ten year old as opposed to bright and yearning. The tones of both passages offer two distinctly different feelings. While the tone of Eleven holds a sense of ambition and frustration, On Turning Ten holds a depressing and ironically mature tone. The two different tones of the passages conflict with each other and place Rachel and the narrator of the poem on two different ends of the spectrum. The heartbreaking

and slightly loathing tone of On Turning Ten depicts the narrators shrewd understanding of the aging process. The grief lurking behind each stanza exemplifies the narrators sadness at leaving simplicity while also demonstrating his perspicacious stance on aging. The narrators light is diminishing and much like his bicycle leaning against the garage, the narrators speed has very much been drained. The tone of Eleven could be considered the polar opposite of On Turning Ten. Where the tone of the poem is glum and morbid, Eleven is somewhat lighthearted and clutches onto the concept of wishful desire and yearning. Because of the tone, Rachel is acknowledged as a young and hopeful girl who wishes to be older and experienced. While the carefree aspects of the passage demonstrate Rachels childish disposition, the subtle frustration and longing in the tone twist her into a girl who obviously craves the sophistication and worldliness associated with adulthood. While both Rachel and the unidentified narrator convey wisdom and a wise sense of age, their specific views and opinions on life and the aging process differ. Through a vast array of literary techniques, both authors convey a similar wisdom in the characters while also expressing polar opposite views on what it means to grow old.