Rites of passage are an ordeal that a person either does on their own or are forced to do by others in order to gain some sort of status or respect in a certain situation. A key point in the rite of passage process is an epiphany. The epiphany usually occurs to the person near the end of the ordeal when they have time to reflect on their new knowledge from the situation. Another aspect of rites of passage is that “man makes himself.”, which suggests that in order for a person to have a presence or get noticed they must do something for themselves to get them recognized. In the short story “The Underground Episode”, the boy goes through every one of these phases throughout the story. “Man makes himself” is an integrate part of this rite of passage story, the transformation from childhood to adulthood.
There are three main characters in the story: Nick, Laska, and the boy. Laska is a man who is nomad who will go wherever a job will take him. Nick is a man who is looking to go back to his wife and child across the ocean in the old country. The boy, who was no older than 17, had run away from home and was working to make a living for himself. Laska and nick were both grown men who had been working together for a while and had acquired a deep respect for one another. The boy had just joined the crew and was still unsure of himself around the other men. The men did not pay much attention to the boy because he had not been working with them long enough to prove himself; the men still questioned his ability to be accountable. Throughout the story the workers are digging at night in the rain to uncover a newly lane sewer pipe that was beginning to fill with mud. The men and the boy are taking a break when the boss, Stender, comes by the hole and declares that someone will have to crawl through the pipe to the manhole with a rope tied around his ankle. The pipe is 18 inches wide and 100 feet long; the boy sees this as an opportunity...