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The Man Who Was Almost a Man


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Richard Wright once said “Blues, spirituals, and folk talks recounted from mouth to mouth… all these formed the channels through which the racial wisdom flowed” (Thinkexist.com).This quote is related to “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” because they both have racism intertwined in them. The story is about a 17 year old negro boy who wants to buy a gun to prove to his family that he is not a boy anymore and instead a man. The author, Richard Wright, had wrote many inspiring true stories such as “Uncles Tom’s Children”, “ Native Son”, and “Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth” (buffalo.edu). Using racial/cultural criticism, a reader can analyze Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by using the aspects of grammar, cultural characteristics, and family relationships.

First, this story has a lot of grammatical errors in the reading. “Ah tol yuh t git outta here! Yuh ain gonna toucha penny of that money fer no gun! Thas how come Ah has Mistah Hawkins t pay yo wages t me, cause Ah knows yuh ain got no sence” (Wright). This quote is a good example of grammar because most of the words are either shortened or combined. This quote is explaining when the mom is refusing to give Dave the money to buy the gun that he wanted. “Take tha gun n git yo money back n carry it t Mistah Hawkins, yuh hear? N don fergit Ahma lam you black bottom good fer this! Now march yosef on home, suh!” (Wright). This quote represents even more grammar issues by Dave’s dad who is also black and when Joe the shopkeeper talks his grammar is perfect.

Next, the next aspect in this story that is focused on is the cultural characteristics. “Where yuh been, boy?” His mother held a steaming dish of black-eyed peas (Wright). This quote relates to cultural characteristics because she is cooking black-eyed peas for dinner due to not having any money. “Waal, thas good. We kin use it in the outhouse (Wright).”Most people have bathrooms in their houses except for this particular black family that has to use an outhouse and use a catalog for toilet paper because they cannot afford it. Dave just wants to feel protected by keeping a gun and also his mother had hid her money close to her so nobody can try to steal her money. Also, the morals and views of the Negros in the south were farming, hardworking, and respect. Dave was scared that his father would have beat him again for not listening and he was scared of his dad finding out about the gun (Wright). Dave’s mom was also scared because she told Dave not to tell his dad about the two dollars that she had gave him to buy the gun.

Finally, the last aspect of this story that is analyzed is the family relationships that are going on during this story. “That night Dave did not sleep. He was glad that he had gotten out of killing the mule so easily, but he was hurt. Something hot seemed to turn over inside him each time he remembered how they had laughed. He tossed on his bed, feeling his hard pillow. N Pa says he’s gonna beat me.. He remembered other beatings, and his back quivered. Naw, naw, Ah sho don wan im t beat me tha way no mo. Dam em all! Nobody ever gave him anything. All he did was work. They treat me like a mule, n then they beat me. He gritted his teeth. N Ma had t tell on me” (Wright). This quote represents family relationships because it talks about his dad beating him a lot and how his mom had told on him to his father because she was also scared of the dad. “Did you ever hear of anything like that in all your life?” asked Jim Hawkins. There were white and black standing in the crowd. They murmured. Dave’s mother came close to him and looked hard into his face. “Tell the truth Dave,” she said (Wright). This quote represents racial relationships between the black and the whites. They can come together as a crowd and not fight, which means that there were not racial wars going on in that time. The Whites were superior to the blacks though, because Dave looks up to Joe at the store and buys a gun off of him.

In conclusion, using the aspects of grammar, cultural characteristics, and family relationships, a reader can analyze Richard Wrights “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” while using racial/cultural criticism. By reading this inspiring story, One can learn about the cultural differences between blacks and whites and also the different family relationships. This is a good read for people who are interested in learning different lifestyles of different ethnicities.

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Works Cited
"Richard Wright Biography." Buffalo.edu. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. <http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/wright/wright_bio.html>.
"Richard Wright Quotes." Thinkexist.com. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. <http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/Richard_Wright/>.
Wright, Richard. The Man Who Was Almost a Man. Print.



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