Analysis Essay on Rites of Passage

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Middlebury College
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Critical thinking
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(1) Common Misunderstandings

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I have heard people refer to an individual who has died as His/her curtains closed. Others say He/she has bitten the dust. According to Van Genneps book, people should be ushered warmly into the new rites of passage without having to use such negative phrases.

(2) The Territorial Rites of Passage

i) According to Van Genneps (p. 192), the territorial passage can refer to passage from one social position to another or a change in social categories that involves a change of residence. For instance, when most of the children reach their adolescence, they stop living with their parents can start living in their separate house sometimes far from their parents. Such a change symbolizes significant achievements to the youth as they can have the mandate to take care of themselves. Thus, it can be considered as territorial passage because it is usually accompanied by rituals or celebration (192).

ii) Gennep (p.19) provides another kind of territorial rite of passage such as crossing from one village to another, a town to another or even a territory to a new territory. He cites an example of Egyptian General Grant where a bull had to be slain and its head and body placed separately on the side of the gangplank and the General would pass between them stepping on the blood to signify a rite of passage from one geographical territory to a new one.

(3) The Specific Three Stages of Rites of Passage as Van Gennep Sees Them

i. First Stage: Separation

In this stage, a person is detached from his/her current status, or position of a group of people to another. It is usually accompanied by some symbolic behaviors, rituals or actions to mark the separation (Nicholas, 2012). The involved individual always undergoes this stage with the assistance of other members specifically those who have undergone the same stage sometimes earlier. ii. Second Stage: Liminal Period This stage links two states. It is the stage between the time an individual has left one status, position or location but has not yet entered into the other one (Gennep p.21). During this period, the involved individuals have been given specific titles that commonly portray their situation. iii. Third Stage: Reaggregation This is the final stage in the rite of passage where the individual undergoing the ritual is reconnected with the society in their new status. The reaggregation stage portrays successful completion of the rite of passage and is usually accompanied by celebrations (Nicholas, 2012). Besides, it usually involves an outside symbol such as wearing a ring for a married couple.

(4) Non-Territorial Rites of Passage

Prayers and Sacrifices seldom occur in isolation; in most cases, they are combined with the intention of removing an obstacle or carrying out the passage itself (Gennep p. 22). A friend of mine from a different culture has always told me of how their grandparents (specific ones) always offer a sacrifice of a white sheep accompanied by prayer during the time of drought. At first, it did not come to my attention as a spiritual rite of passage, but after reading the Van Genneps book, I realized its significance. It raised my curiosity on how their society decides whom to make the sacrifice only to realize that the old men have to undergo a certain rite of passage and rituals performed to sanctify the men to communicate with gods on behalf of the community. (5) A Professional Experience Analogous to Rite of Passage Being Studied by Van Gennep In Its 3 Stages

In my academic journey, I had had a serious problem with mathematics. I always tried to study, but I could not understand much, so I even got bored taking the time to learn mathematics. One day, my parents challenged me and told me to do something about mathematics because it was all in my mind. I began the journey of solving my dislike for mathematics problem by accepting that I can perform better (separation stage). Then, I opted to befriend the best mathematic student and learn how we work them out. I worked with him, and for months, I was still performing the same way. After working with him persistently, I started improving my mathematics problem-solving skills (Liminal period). By the time, I was doing my final grade 12 examinations, I was leading in mathematics, and my parents rewarded me greatly. They bought me a new car. I also attribute my success in mathematics to prayers (non-territorial rites) from my parents and my own.

(6) Using this knowledge of The Rites of Passage to better Enable Others to Act

6. Although my professional rite of passage was successful, it took me a lot of time. I can help my fellow students who have problems in specific disciplines by advising them to take the same rite of passage. However, I would recommend them to not only accept it but also tell a few friends who also experience the same problem so that they can have the rites together. That way, I believe it can take less time to improve.

(7) Emotional Electricity Or Even Magico-Religious Feeling Seemed to Accompany That Rite of Passage

At first, I was fearful because I did not believe I could change. However, when I started improving, there was a warm feeling of excitement that motivated me even to work harder, participate more and even ask more questions. I started seeing mathematics in a completely different dimension where I realized new techniques of studying mathematics and which were less time-consuming. I believe this kind of excitement was as a result of improved self-esteem that came about following a successful completion of my academic rite of passage.

(8) a sense of danger seems to accompany the liminal state

A sense of danger accompanies the liminal state due to the fears that one would accomplish the process (Gennep p. 21). However, the fear disappears when the sense of accomplishment replaces one start seeing the positive outcomes and the sense of danger.


Gennep, A. (2013). The Rites of Passage (1st ed.). London: Routledge.

Nicholas, H. (2012). Rites of Passage: 25 Concepts in Anthropology - YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved 6 April 2017, from

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