Boys Ethnicity in The River | World Anvil
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In all of the women's villages, the only qualification for adulthood is to give birth to a baby girl. As a result, there is an entire category of people completely barred from full participation in women's society: boys. They are raised with a minimum of attention, and upon adolescence are made to join one of the many boy packs that migrate seasonally between villages. However, despite being so devalued, these packs are essential to the stability and function of the women's culture.  

Naming Traditions

Women give boys low-value names, usually related to inanimate objects or physical features--for example, Broken Stone or Small Ears. Also common are boys named Nothing or No Good. As children they may gain nicknames derived from habits, especially if there are other boys with the same given name. A boy's name may change yet again when he joins his pack if there is already a boy in it with a similar name, or if he just dislikes his own name. Even this name is not of his own choosing, but given to him by the other boys in the pack.


Major language groups and dialects

Because of their extensive travels, boys maintain the consistency of women's language. Dialect development is suppressed because all villages need to be able to communicate with all boy packs.   Boys use two kinds of code to communicate with each other in secrecy.  When they are in the presence of women or girls and need help or suspect an unpleasant situation, each pack has its own set of words or phrases that sound innocuous or nonsensical to other listeners but communicate a warning or request for backup.  Common to all packs is a symbolic code using stones placed in particular formations to convey information about villages they have been to.

Culture and cultural heritage

Although they are rejected from the women's culture they are born into, boys are responsible for its continuity.  Women do not leave their homes except under very rare circumstances, so it is the boy packs in their regular travels who carry news and messages between villages.  Some of the larger packs may also carry goods--if a village is experiencing a shortage of good tool stones or dried fish or anything else, the women will arrange a trade with another village using boys as the carriers.

Shared customary codes and values

Boys in a pack are loyal to each other, but not necessarily to any other boys.  Packs sometimes compete with each other for space in villages.  If they meet on the approach to a village there can be violence, but this is rare.  Most packs pass through the crossroads several times during the dry months and negotiate their planned routes and destinations.

Art & Architecture

Boys are not permitted to have houses in women's villages, but that has not stopped them from making their own structures elsewhere. The nearest thing they have to their own village is the crossroads, a small section of an uninhabited stream marked out as a map of the villages.

Birth & Baptismal Rites

Boys are weaned early, usually as soon as they can walk. What happens to them afterward depends on the mother. Women are expected to feed, clothe, and shelter their children at least until their second growth; but some--especially if they already have multiple girls--will provide their boys with less than the minimum to pressure them to scavenge elsewhere.

Coming of Age Rites

During the first winter after he begins his second growth, a boy will choose a pack to join as they visit his birth village. He is not necessarily locked into his choice; at any time during the next few years he may switch to a different one. Once he has reached his full maturity he is accepted as a member of the pack of his choice and expected to remain in it for life. Each pack has its own specific ceremony, and it is the deepest secret that boys keep; they do not share details of these ceremonies even with other boy packs.

Historical figures

The most well-known and well-liked boy, even by women, is Long Steps. He is lead boy of a small pack that travels extensively during the dry season, visiting each village two or three times before settling in somewhere for the duration of the rainy months.
Languages spoken
Related Locations

View from the future

The oppression of boys ended during the migration to the vastland's coast. In all descendant cultures boys and men have the same legal rights as girls and women, although women are still given preference in leadership roles.

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