Everyone’s view of the world is different. We may share some of the same general ideas and theories, but each individual has their own understanding of our existing and the universe as a whole. This understanding develops primarily from life experience, which is most influential in shaping character, and also from attitude and age. Quite significant is the maturity of the individual; his or her scope of events – perhaps his or her ability to draw more from a situation than is concretely given – puts events in greatly contrasting lights.
John_Locke.jpg John Locke, an 18th century British philosopher, championed the idea that the human mind is a blank slate at birth. Therefore, the experiences acquired throughout an individual’s lifetime are the building blocks of his or her ideas and knowledge (Uzgalis). Though age does not necessarily determine maturity, it cannot be helped in the early years of life because of the time disadvantage to have experiences, and the lack of mental development to understand. In that respect, one can see the evident differences in a situation through the eyes of a toddler versus an older individual, like an adult or myself.
For example, take the concept of Christmas. To my five year old sister, it is still all about the magical, chubby, bearded man taking a wonderful trip around the world delivering presents to all children in the dark of the night. To the grown-up world, however, it is not. It is about the deceit and money funneled into this oddly cherished holiday based on nothing but a lie. Because “Santa” is not actually real, there are kids who do not receive toys. The children were not “naughty”, but the parents could just simply not afford the presents. There are families who spend Christmas just as they would any other day, in a shelter or on the curbside, neglected by the human race. Though a little extreme, it illustrates how maturity allows for a grasping of concepts in the real world to a greater, global degree of comprehension. wordle.jpg

 One can see these stark contrasts of perception in all kinds of modern media as well. In particular, the TV show Arrested Development exemplifies maturity’s impact on perception. The main character, Michael Bluth, takes over the family’s functionality after the father is sent to jail for embezzling funds from the Bluth Company. Michael, responsible and determined, tries to keep the once wealthy family together by running the company himself. However, his twin sister Lindsay, half brother Tobias, niece Maeby, brothers Buster and Gob, and mother Lucille are not yet adjusted to this new lifestyle. Lindsay continuously updates her wardrobe, Tobias (who Michael is for some reason also supporting), is unemployed and seeking such ambitious work as “frightened inmate number two”, Buster and Maeby quite literally do nothing, and Gob is a destructive magician. Lucille refrains from acknowledging reality and goes on with life as she used to, taking no responsibility for her kids’ leisurely lifestyles. Michael’s rationale is futile. Because the Bluths grew up so wealthy, they were continuously and unlimitedly supplied of their wishes. They were sheltered, and had no need to concern themselves with the outside, “real” world. It’s a wonder, then, that Michael can operate as well as he does.

In Things Fall Apart, perspectives are varied and many of the events and cultural aspects are interpreted differently in respect to level of maturity. One of the songs mentioned that the village children sing, ‘the rain is falling, the sun is shining, Alone Nnadi is cooking and eating’, (Achebe 22) is a good example of how lack of experience and maturity varies meaning. Nwoye, a young boy, wonders who Nnadi is and why he lives such a life. He then comes to the conclusion that he lives in a far land he heard about in one of Ikemefuna’s stories. For one, the idea that “Nwoye always wondered who Nnadi was” (Achebe 22) shows Nwoye’s lack of understanding that the song is not literal. The fact that he then justifies the song by placing the character in an imaginary world “where the ant holds his court in splendor and the sands dance forever” (Achebe 22) shows his blurred idea of reality and his lack of experience and ability to discern different events in life, due to his young age, where as an older spectator would take this simple song in a less serious way and merely as a cultural aspect.
Age does not directly correspond to maturity level however, as seen in Okonkwo’s self-made success. As he says in anger to Nwoye, “You think you are still a child. I began to own a farm at your age” (Achebe 20). His anger for his father’s apathy caused him to “grow up” at an astonishingly quick rate, and also affected the way he perceives success. He sees emotion as a sign of weakness, and every fault of his son is a recollection of his father’s failings. This is an example of how his childhood experiences shaped his outlook on life He brought himself from nothing to become highly respected and successful, at a very young age. This difference between age and maturity is also apparent when Okonkwo’s two daughters, Ezinma and Obiageli sit in his obi. Okonkwo tells his child, “Do you hear that Ezinma? You are older than Obiageli but she has more sense" (Achebe 28).
When Okonkow’s daughter Obiageli comes back home one day with a broken pot, her age and immaturity cause her to tell a story different from what really happened, and for her mother to understand the situation differently. She comes back in tears, broken pot in hand, explaining to her mother the sad situation which led to that moment and how distraught she was about this event. We learn later from her brothers’ perspective that she in fact was being immature and goofing off which caused the pot to break, and at the time she only laughed at the situation. Her brother was about to divulge this story to their mother when Nwoye stopped him, letting his younger sister get away with it because of her youth (Achebe 27). This is a prime example of immaturity- her untruthful account to save herself- misconstruing the story getting told.
It is fairly difficult to point any fingers at maturity for being the cause of differing perspectives, because it is not one of the easiest aspects to notice about one’s self. I find that I don’t take that into account in my own choices and situational deductions. I hardly pull apart little conversations and everyday happenings to figure out what I may be getting out of it as opposed to the person I’m talking to. One’s maturity is just too linked to who we are that it’s not acknowledged. So, oblivion is often the case. However, it is still one of the most prominent aspects of a person’s being, and has one of the greatest impacts on how life is interpreted and, therefore, how a story is told.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1st ed. Columbus, OH: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1959. 110, 111. Print.

"John Locke." Oregon State. Oregon Statue University, n.d. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/philosophers/locke.html>

Uzgalis, William, "John Locke", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalt(ed.).