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Mead Coming of Age In Samoa

Mead Coming of Age In Samoa

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Published by Yaqeen Fouad

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Published by: Yaqeen Fouad on Jul 08, 2011
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05/23/2013

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COMINGOFAGE
IN
SAMOA
dPsychologicalStudyofPrimitiu«YouthforWesternCivilisation
.»y
MARGARETMEAD
Foreword
oJ
FranzBoas
MORROWQUILLPAPERBACKS
 
II
ADAYINSAMOA
THE
lifeofthedaybeginsatdawn,orifthemoonhasshownuntildaylight,theshoutsoftheyoungmenmaybeheardbeforedawnfromthehillside.Uneasyinthenight,populouswithghosts,theyshoutlustilytooneanotherastheyhastenwiththeirwork.
As
thedawnbeginstofallamongthesoftbrownroofsandtheslenderpalmtreesstandoutagainstacolourless,gleamingsea,loverssliphomefromtrystsbeneaththepalmtreesorintheshadowofbeachedcanoes,thatthelightmayfindeachsleeperinhisappointedplace.Cockscrow,negligently,andashrill-voicedbirdcriesfromthebreadfruittrees.Theinsistentroarofthereefseemsmutedtoanundertoneforthesoundsofawakingvillage.Babiescry,afewshortwailsbeforesleepymothersgivethemthebreast.Restlesslittlechildrenrolloutoftheirsheetsandwanderdrowsilydowntothebeachtofreshentheirfaces
in
thesea.Boys,bentuponanearlyfishing,startcollectingtheirtackleandgotorousetheirmorelaggardcompanions.Firesare
lit,
hereandthere,thewhitesmokehardlyvisibleagainstthepalenessofthedawn.Thewholevillage,sheetedandfrowsy,stirs,rubs
its
eyes,andstumblestowardsthebeach."TaIofa!""TalofaI"
[r4]
,
"~
,'_;'
.
-,~
.--
\
ADAYINSAMOA
uWillthejourneystartto-day?""Is...oonitofishingyourlordshipisgoing?"Girlsstoptogiggleoversomeyoungne'er-do-wellwhoescapedduringthenightfromanangryfather'spursuit_andtoventureashrewdguessthatthedaughterknewmoreabouthispresencethanshetold.Theboywhoistauntedbyanother,whohassucceededhiminhissweetheart'sfavour,grappleswithhisrival,hisfootslipping
in
thewetsand.Fromtheotherendofthevillagecomesalongdrawn-out,pierc-ingwail.Amessengerhasjustbroughtwordofthedeathofsomerelativeinanothervillage.Half-clad,unhurriedwomen,withbabiesattheirbreasts,orastridetheirhips,pauseintheirtaleofLoss'soutragedde-parturefromherfather'shousetothegreaterkindnessinthehomeofheruncle,towonderwhoisdead.Poorrelativeswhispertheirrequeststorichrelatives,menmakeplanstosetafishtraptogether,awomanbegsabitofyellowdyefromakinswoman,andthroughthevillagesoundstherhythmictattoowhichcallstheyoungmentogether.Theygatherfrom
all
partsofthevillage,diggingsticksinhand,readytostartinlandtotheplantation.Theoldermensetoffupontheirmorelonelyoccupations,andeachhousehold,reassem-bledunderitspeakedroof,setdesdowntotheroutineofthemorning.Littlechildren,toohungrytowaitforthelatebreakfast,beglumpsofcoldtarowhichtheymunchgreedily.Womencarrypilesofwashingtotheseaortothespringatthefarendofthevillage,orsetoffinlandafterweavingmaterials.Theolder
[IS]
 
COMINGOFAGEINSAMOAgirlsgofishingonthereef,orperhapssetthemselvestoweavinganewsetofVenetianblinds.Inthehouses,wherethepebbly
Boors
havebeensweptbarewithastifflong-handledbroom,thewomengreatwithchildandthenursingmothers,sitandgossipwithoneanother.Oldmensitapart,unceasinglytwistingpalmhuskontheirbarethighsandmutteringoldtalesundertheirbreath.Thecarpentersbeginworkonthenewhouse,whiletheownerbustlesabouttryingtokeeptheminagoodhumour.Familieswhowillcookto-dayarehardatwork;thetaro,yamsandbananashavealreadybeenbroughtfrominland;thechildrenarescuttlingbackandforth,fetchingseawater,orleavestostuffthepig.Asthesunriseshigherinthesky,theshadowsdeepenunderthethatchedroofs,thesandisburningtothetouch,thehibiscusBowerswiltonthehedges,andlittlechildrenbidthesmallerones,"Comeoutofthesun."Thosewhoseexcursionshavebeenshortreturntothevillage,thewomenwithstringsofcrimsonjellyfish,orbasketsofshellfish,themenwithcocoanuts,carriedinbasketsslungonashoulderpole.Thewomenandchildreneattheirbreakfasts,justhotfromtheoven,ifthis
is
cook
day,
andtheyoungmenworkswiftlyinthe
mid-
dayheat,preparingthenoonfeastfortheirelders.Itishighnoon.Thesandburnsthefeetofthelittlechildren,wholeavetheirpalmleafballsandtheirpin-wheelsoffrangipaniblossomstowither
in
thesun,astheycreepintotheshadeofthehouses.The
[16]
c_-..
.,f....-~_
."_r-~__~~~__.
r.._
ADAYINSAMOAwomenwhomustgoabroadcarrygreatbananaleavesassun-shadesorwindwetclothsabouttheirheads.Loweringafewblindsagainsttheslantingsun,allwhoareleftinthevillagewraptheirheadsinsheetsandgotosleep.Onlyafewadventurouschildrenmayslipawayforaswimintheshadowofahighrock,someindustriouswomancontinuewithherweaving,oracloselittlegroupofwomenbendanxiouslyoverawomaninlabour.Thevillageisdazzlinganddead;anysoundseemsoddlyloudandoutofplace.Wordshavetocutthroughthesolidheatslowly.Andthenthesungraduallysinksoverthesea.Asecondtime,thesleepingpeoplestir,rousedper-hapsbythecryof"aboat,"resoundingthroughthevillage.Thefishermenbeachtheircanoes,wearyandspentfromtheheat,inspiteoftheslakedlimeontheirheads,withwhichtheyhavesoughttocooltheirbrainsandreddentheirhair.Thebrightlycolouredfishesarespreadoutonthe
Boor,
orpiledinfrontofthehousesuntilthewomenpourwateroverthemtofreethemfromtaboo.Regretfully,theyoungfishermensepa-rateoutthe"Taboofish,"whichmustbesenttothechief,orproudlytheypackthelittlepalmleafbasketswithofferingsoffishtotaketotheirsweethearts.Mencomehomefromthebush,grimyandheavyladen,shoutingastheycome,greetedinasonorousrisingcadencebythosewhohaveremainedathome.Theygather
in
theguesthousefortheireveningkavadrinking.Thesoftclappingofhands,thehigh-
[17]

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