A Wizard of Earthsea
Coming of Age Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
All the years and places of his brief broken life came within mind's reach and made a whole again. He knew once more, at last, after this long, bitter, wasted time, who he was and where he was. (4.102)
In A Wizard of Earthsea, coming of age is often an issue of knowing who you are, which is exactly what's going on in this scene. After Ged has been scared (and scarred) by his experience with the shadow monster, Vetch reminds him of who he is, and Ged becomes less fearful.
Since the night on Roke Knoll his desire had turned as much against fame and display as once it had been set on them. Always now he doubted his strength and dreaded the trial of his power. Yet also the talk of dragons drew him with a great curiosity. (5.5)
Le Guin comes right out and tells us that the experience with the shadow monster is what caused Ged to change so much. And yet, notice that turn in the last sentence: Ged now doubts his own power, which is why he accepts this particular post. Oh, and also, he wants to know about dragons. Le Guin tells us that Ged has really changed – except part of him remains just as curious as ever.
Yet to Ged wandering through the streets those ponderous mansions seemed like veils, behind which lay an empty dark; and people who passed him, intent on their business, seemed not real men but voiceless shadows of men. (6.27)
It seems like Ged has changed from naïve country boy to a super cynical guy who can see into the real way things are. (He's like the guy who, when you show him something nice, starts talking about how there are all these hidden flaws that only he knows about because he's seen it all before.) We might be tempted to say that, in coming of age, Ged has swung a little too far the other way.