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The Man Who was Almost Man

“When we’re unemployed, we’re called lazy; when the whites are unemployed its called depression.”(“Jackson.”) In the story “The man who was almost a man” by Richard Wright. In the this story, The young boy named Dave is working hard to save up money for school, but is trying to prove he is a man as well. Dave struggles with his dialogue, fitting in with his setting and the relationship towards the white town folks. These things create obstacles that Dave must work hard to get over.
The first problem throughout this story is Dave’s dialogue. Dave is very illiterate because he doesn’t have the money to go to school. “Ol man Hawkins give yuh mah money yit?”(Wright 4.) Dave spends all his time doing extreme labor to afford him an education. Since his parents do not have the money, he has to pay for it. Since he is so behind in school because of working, he can’t talk and read as well as other folks who have the education he is lacking do. Since he’s black he doesn’t get that great of an education. The way he talks to some people is very hard to understand. “Ain nothing wrong, Ma. Ahm almos a man now. ah wans a gun.”(5) Dave doesn’t speak correct English, which cause him to get made fun of by the educated white folks. When he does get enough money for school, he will be very behind in his school that it will be extremely hard for him to catch. With his illiterate dialogue and him being black, Dave will struggle to get an education and job as great as a white man.
The setting in this story also plays a huge role in Dave’s path to becoming a man. He is a black man living in the south. During these times, black did not receive the same respect as a white man. He is trying to prove that he is a man just like everyone else.” One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, then they couldn’t talk to him as thou he were a little boy.”(1) He wants the respect a real man has. Dave must work ten times hard to get the respect down in the south. Living in the south at this time was very hard for blacks but Dave was willing to do anything to prove he could make it through. Although he could get the respect of a black man, the bigger struggle was getting the respect of a white man. Dave even states “Aw, Ma, Ah done worked hard alla summer n ain ast yuh fer nothing, is Ah, now?” (5) Dave has to work just as hard to find his place in society when society is judging him just based on the color of his skin,

This short story shows great examples of the black and white relationships in the south during this time. Dave must do hard manual labor to get paid way less than what a white man would get paid for that hard work. In this story they treat Dave like he is stupid and isn’t as good as a white man is. In the story an accident happens and Dave takes responsibility for it, but is called stupid, “Well, boy, looks like you bought a dead mule!”(10). If this were to happen to a white boy, it would easily be let go. But since Dave is black, he has becoming a laughing stock. And although he has the support of his family, they still see him as a boy, because of how hard they had to work to become a man. He is told, “ Ah don care what Ah promised! Yuh ain nothing but a boy!”(5). He struggles to be accepted into a world, in a land where he isn’t wanted or accepted no matter what he does.

The story, A Man Who Was Almost a Man tells the story of Dave fighting his way to become a man, with the weight of the world holding him back. Racism was a something he couldn’t fight and he tries to find a way around it. With his dialogue, setting and the white and black relationship standing in his way the path to manhood is a much longer journey traveled than it is today. Humans are judgmental and we need to learn to work as a team instead of fighting each other for the top. In this life, we can be just like Dave a real man, but instead we fight each other because of our differences and we are nothing but little boys.





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