Josh most uneasy, though, was how my father,
Josh Mann Wendy Pawlak 9-22-11 Textual Analysis “Pass” There is a time in everyone’s life where they discover their sexuality. Boyer Rickel’s short story “Pass” demonstrates the beginning stages of a boy discovering his sexuality. The main character is a 10-year-old boy who finds himself “always in the company of men never with women” (315, Rickel). These masculine environments influence his sexuality and his understanding of his sexual preference. At one point in the narrative the boy finds himself fascinated with the male physique and realizes that he is defying social norms.
In “Pass,” the protagonist discovers his preference towards boys through his multiple surroundings in the story, such as Rays Barbershop, the Pool house, and the boys’ locker room. As a child, the boy’s father often took the protagonist to Rays Barbershop. It was here that he began to feel uneasiness towards men. The main character first describes Rays as “ A world of men, men without women” (315).
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By being around only men the main character grows uneasy because he comes to realize that he is more comfortable and emotionally connected around women.This is because he desires men and feels more comfortable in a feminine environment away from that sexual tension. As he sits in the parlor he feels lost in the conversations between the men.
Although he feels “the talk was generally good-natured,” he is put off by the “quality of a public competition” in their voices (315). These conversations where he feels uncomfortable include sports, and the stock market because these subjects are usually associated with masculinity while the protagonist experiences underlying femininity.Another reason the protagonist is uncomfortable in Ray’s Barbershop is because of how his father’s demeanor changes when they step into Ray’s.
“ What made me most uneasy, though, was how my father, stepping through Ray’s door, became someone else; he suddenly treated me as an other” (316). He also notes that his “fathers voice would dip to a lower register, sounding flat and less gentle” (316). By being treated like an outsider by his father, the protagonist begins to feel as if he is different from other men.
These are his first stages of coming to realize his sexual differences.The next influential environment in the protagonist’s life takes place in his high school locker room. He participates on the tennis team and everyday he showers with the other boys. This is the most critical stage in which the protagonist realizes his sexuality. In this environment, he finds similarities between Rays and the locker room. They both have “quick insults and sarcasm” and “ each comment an attempt to top the one before” (316).
The protagonist doesn’t feel comfortable with these conversations, and attempts to be a part of them by “snorting at appropriate moments” (316).The protagonist feels out of place in this setting, he doesn’t feel as if he fits in with the other boys and their masculine traits such as their sarcasm and attempts to top each others’ comments. This is evident as he begins to come out to himself as a homosexual. Another reason he doesn’t feel comfortable in the Locker Room is because as he is in the locker room he stares at “what interested and confused me most: the other boys’ bodies” (316). During this point in his life, the protagonist is in high school, and these times are a critical point for him discovering his sexual preference.
The main character realizes he’s attracted to men and in his head, he feels as if he is an outcast. The final setting in which the protagonist develops his sexuality is in a pool house called The Q. The protagonist comes to The Q and observes the patrons of the pool house.
He watches his brother and his friends as they interact. Rarely does he chime in on the conversations, because he feels as if he is different than the regular patrons. “ I was scared almost trembling each time I walked into The Q … I knew I was a spy, an imposter” (317).
This is crucial because the readers discover that he is scared of being found out for his true sexuality. Being in The Q is out of his comfort zone; he witnesses fights and people trash talking one another, which is not in his nature. Finally, the atmosphere of the Pool House excites him because he is surrounded by men. This appeals to his sexual nature. “ I felt certain something fundamental in my nature would be different, and to these men, to my brother, even, unacceptable” (317). This quote demonstrates how alienated he feels from the rest of the group, and most other straight men.He feels lonely and in turn visits The Q in order to watch and be close to the other men.
He wants to interact with the other men but is too scared for fear of being discovered. So instead, he keeps to himself and rarely chimes in, in order to “pass” or in other words he tries to fit into norms unnoticed. A quote that further explains this claim is “ if I simply watched, smiled, smirked, laughed at the right moments, slouched down in my chair, I’d pass” (317). Throughout the story we find that the protagonist has a difficult time coping in situations where he is different from everyone else.
He is shaped and influenced by three crucial settings: Ray’s Barbershop, the boys’ locker room, and The Q pool house. Each of these places helps the main character discover his true self. As he watches other people interact, he comes to terms with his sexuality and wishes he could fit in with everyone else. He attempts to “pass” as a regular kid by watching and interpreting peoples’ actions. At the end of the story, the main character has yet to realize the most important aspect of growing up: Don’t be afraid to be yourself and show your true colors.