Jeannies coming of age story

Several of the strands in The Son are coming of age stories.

Jeannie's early chapters cover her time as a very young girl, an older school-girl, and, so far as I've read, as a young woman. These stories are interleaved with the scene of her as a very old woman, one about to die.

In her younger scenes we see her maturation: she begins to menstrate and we see how she copes with this in a woman-free household, and we see her slightly older and unsure of why on earth she would want sex, and then to feeling cheated that her brothers can be as promiscuious as they want but she cannot.

When she travels to the North we see her acculturation. Primarily this is social: the girls she meets are bitchy or cool or shy, but inhabit a fairly standard pre-adolescent world of anxiety and status struggles. But it is cultural too: she is horrified that men in the city stare at her in ways that would get them shot or arrested in Texas. She is offended when asked how much land her family have, and doesn't understand why the girls she is with laugh when she tells them: the size of her family ranch is preposterously huge by Northern standards. But the acculturation episode leaves a significant mark: it serves as a reminder to her that she is a Texan, and that the ranch is her home, or perhaps that she must make it her home.

A coming of age story always involves the loss of innocence. Jeannie loses innocence when her uncle Phineas reveals how badly the ranch is doing, how cattle cannot be the future. She loses innocence when she realises her father is at least a dandy, maybe a buffoon.

Finally, Jeannie becomes more worldly by challenging her father with the facts of the farm's decline, and resolving to determine her own path. We have had many scenes of Jeannie as an old woman so already know she does, but this coming-of-age story is dramatic in that it fills in our understanding of how old, rich, powerful Jeannie McCullough came to be.