The search after the great man is the dream of youth and the most serious occupation of manhood. Man can paint, or make, or think, nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought. Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. Each man seeks those of different quality from his own, and such as are good of his kind; that is, he seeks other men.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The writing is an enigmatic journey of a young male into adulthood where there are many encounters of some of the many rites of passage (dilemmas) in the modern society; smoking, drinking, and violence. Mr. Gerzon refers to these as part of the 'masculine code of conduct' an item every male must follow verbatim.
Peer pressure is a major dilemma in that friends or peers try to get a person to do what they, the majority, like and not what the individual likes. Peers create some of the so-called rites, then when one follows more start to follow, then it becomes the scenario of the lemmings following their leader off of the face of a cliff. Some teens think that drinking is a passage into adulthood and the logic of some teens then indicates that if you drink you are considered an adult. Therefore if one teen tries it he is supposedly accepted as a more mature person, so more people will follow.
Many adolescents fear their peers because of the fact that the peer group may have set certain ideals yet the individual may or may not have the resources to obtain the ideals. If there is a lack of resources then the individual may have a low level of self esteem. Many individuals do not care for the ideals yet they allow themselves to be converted to the majority and this can also create a problem with ones self-esteem.
We cannot begin to understand our own history without understanding manhood. Even those with the most uncertain understanding of the past cannot fail to see the influence of the male in our society. It is no wonder, then, that men lean toward dominance, authority, and control. Men believe (or earnestly wish to believe) that the future depends on them; that deep within them rests an inherent ability to sire, or mentor, great men who will become the heroes of sons yet unborn. As men, it is their quiet longing that even his own sons might become, or at least associate with, such heroes. In every generation, manhood has been at the center of life and progress. It constantly strives to uphold its own traditions while anxiously trying to redefine itself. It is their nature to search for new frontiers, to be different than their fathers. How men do this, while staying within the bounds of manhood, has always been their deepest challenge.
Today we live in a complex world of few norms where gender roles are increasingly difficult to define. The meaning of manhood is determined by each man, in his experience; they are no longer formed in molds. Manhood is constantly under siege by feminists, religious fundamentalists, political and gender stereotyping and governmental decisions. Still, man endures. Manhood, as stressful as it is, does not change his genetic nature. He must always be about consciously understanding his role as a man and taking responsibility for his actions. It is now known that how males play out their roles as men in their own time will largely determine the kind of quality of life that succeeding generations will have.