| Quote #1
They had all been waiting, for someone who was no longer a boy but had yet to become a man. (2.16)
Mau spends a lot of time, maybe his whole life, in this in-between state, showing that the transition from boy to man never quite ends. But this doesn't mean that he's living in his parents' basement playing Xbox all day. Instead, he has the openness of a boy and the authority of a man. Sounds like a pretty good combo to us.
| Quote #2
It would be a triumph. [...] It would mean that [Mau] had been brought up in the right way and had learned the Right Things. (2.173)
You've heard "it takes a village to raise a child"? Try "it takes a Nation." Becoming a man isn't a solo effort. It reflects on the new man's entire family, and it's a ritual that the entire community supports.
| Quote #3
[On the Boys' Island, Mau had] felt the Nation around him. He was doing the Right Thing. But now? What were the Right Things? (3.84)
As a boy, Mau knew exactly what to do because he had a bunch of adults around to tell him. But when all the adults you used to look up to are dead, you have to start telling yourself what to do. Is that when you truly become an adult?