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the man who was almost a man

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Wright). In “The man who was almost a man”, Dave was a very strong kid, who just wanted to be like his father, and all the other men he knew. When someone’s a slave, they don’t have much to look forward to in life. So becoming a man and finally growing up was a big deal to Dave. A good way to see this happen to Dave is in the Dialogue, setting, Cultural Aspects, and character relationships. Dave had a very strong heart, and went after what he wanted most. Even though he made some wrong decisions, he had all the right intensions.

I think the culture relevance in the story would be the Africans with slavery. Towards the end of the story Dave says “Lawd, ef Ah jus one mo bullet ah’d taka shot at tha house. Ah’d like t scare ol man Hawkins jusa little…Jusa enough t let im know Dave Saunders is a man”( ). Dave was born and raised a slave, and never had the feeling of power before. Every day he goes to Hawkin’s place to take orders from him, and he wanted to show him and everyone else he was better than a slave, he was a man. All Dave wanted was to be seen as a man by all the people, and having a gun was his way of showing it. “One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, and then they couldn’t talk to him as though he were a little boy.”(1) Dave was sick of people pushing him around, and not taking him seriously. Slavery takes away all your freedom, but Dave wouldn’t let it take his manhood. African Americans have been through the most, throughout all the cultures out there. Considering they have all their rights taken away, the one thing the men still should have is their manhood, just like Dave wanted. Slavery was a hard time to deal with for the African Americans, but the only thing Dave wanted was to be a man in the eyes of the people.
In the story, the narrator says “Could kill a man with a gun like this. Kill anybody, black or white” (6). This quotation shows the reader that Dave believes that the white man thinks he cannot be harmed, but with that gun in his hand he feels so powerful that he could kill anybody. The white man seemed to the slaves to be the most powerful person, like that were better than everybody else just because they were white. But in all reality they weren’t. A black man is just as much of a man as a white man. By taking away the manhood, it gave the white man more power over the slaves. Dave felt so strong with that gun in his hand, stronger than he had ever had before because he was never given the chance too. “If he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him”(6). Slaves were pushed around like dirt, so of course they thought they weren’t good enough for anyone. Race and manhood were a huge controversy during the slavery time, by taking away manhood, you create racism.
Reading this story, shows behind the scene to slavery to a lot of different people. Dave wanted so desperately to be seen as a man, but why? Why did he feel like he had to prove himself to so many people? He wanted this because being a slave takes away your soul. Your place to be yourself and be free. Since all of this was taken away, all Dave wanted was to be seen as a man. “If he had a gun like that he would polish it and keeps it shining so it would never rust”(4). Dave wasn’t a stupid boy, he was smart but he just made the wrong decisions sometimes. Also, when Dave was confronted in front of the crowd, the white people all laughed at him, like he was a big joke. “Dave stood, head down, twisting his feet in the dirt”(10). Even though he was telling a lie at the beginning, they showed him absolutely so respect, because he was African American and a slave. And even though Dave did kill the horse which was very wrong, charging him to pay fifty dollars back to Hawkins seemed a little much. If it was a white boy that had made the mistake, surely he would have just been forgiven with no consequence, but when a black boy does it it’s a whole different story. African American’s had a life that no one could even try to imagine now; they were strong people waiting for their freedom.

In Conclusion, this story showed me what slaves lives really consisted of back then, and how they really didn’t have much to look forward to. The white people didn’t respect them, and that’s why becoming a man was so important to Dave. Maybe he thought he would get more respect. From looking at the Dialogue, setting, cultural aspects, and character relationship, it helped showed me all about Dave, and his life. What really surprised me was the way the white man treated Dave after shooting the horse. After reading this story, people will understand the true story of the slaves, and what they suffered through for many years. Dave’s escape was becoming a man, and earning his respect.




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