Essay on Nacirema Independence

Submitted By vanlian7
Words: 1309
Pages: 6

The Transition to Independence in American Culture In American culture, individuals become independent adults multiple times on many different occasions. Americans need several such rituals because they both highly value as well as constantly undermine independence. The various rituals symbolize the transition to adulthood, and often remind the individual of the pitfalls that come with newfound independence. The first time that an American becomes an adult is when the Earth has passed around the Sun 18 times since his birth. At this time, the American affirms to society that he is an adult by getting a sheet of processed fuel with his name and picture on it. The American can then do many things to show his independence. He can trade green pieces of paper (commonly traded for goods and services) for other brightly colored pieces of paper that promise to bring the American more green pieces of paper, but never do. In effect, the American is throwing those green pieces of paper away. This pitfall of independence in American culture is brought on by the society itself as a way of making people more dependent on each other. Also on the day of his ritual, the male Americans must sign up for a lottery-like selection to determine whether or not he must join a group and train to kill people. Although no Americans have been selected in this lottery in over a generation, the society retains the right to do it, just to show the individual that he can never be truly independent, and his fate is at the discretion of society. The final pitfall of American independence that the individual is shown on this day of ritual is the ability to trade green pieces of paper for leaves and tar wrapped in white pieces of paper that is stuck in the mouth and lit on fire. This causes the American’s teeth to rot and decay, tar to become stuck in their lungs, and is a known carcinogen, even by the Americans! Still, many Americans choose to participate in this ritual, primarily for social status and recognition. This is another pitfall of American independence: if you want to be independent and not harm yourself, then all of society will look down on you. Perhaps the most important ritual transition to adulthood comes after 21 passings of their solar calendar, a time far past puberty, and with little known biological significance. At this time, the primary individual receives a piece of paper telling the world that he is indeed an adult, and proceeds to enter a special temple for the first time. The purpose of the temple is to provide the Americans with magic potions that promise “buds,” attractive females to mate with, and the guarantee that you will be socially desirable for consuming them. These potions also have the effect of a neurotoxin, producing impaired sensory and motor function, impaired cognition, possible vomiting and even unconsciousness and death. In this temple the individual searches far and wide for the correct potions to aid his passage. Once picking out several potions, the individual approaches the potion master cautiously. He fumbles for the piece of paper and apologizes at least three times before handing the potions master green pieces of paper, that are accepted everywhere in exchange for goods and services. The individual then makes his way back to his dwelling, where he is surrounded by his support group, who encourages him to be irresponsible on this day. This is the first step in bringing the soon-to-be-independent adult to his knees. The ritual starts with everyone watching the individual take his “first” sip of the potion. Even though many Americans have partaken in drinking such potions before, this taboo is forgotten on the day of the ritual. The support group then partakes in the drinking of potions, but makes sure that the majority of the potion is consumed by the primary individual. This usually occurs during the daylight hours, at such a time that is considered taboo and irresponsible to consume potions. The…