The man who was almost a man

“Ah mol enough to hava gun. Ahm seventeen. Almost a man. He strode, feeling his long loose-joined limbs. Shucks, a man oughta hava little gun aftah he done worked hard all day.”(Wright). In the story “ The man who was almost a man” there was a character named Dave. He was a character who was seventeen and strived to become a real man like his dad and many other men he knew. The setting of this story and where Dave was placed he didn’t really have a lot to look forward. So getting a gun and having that feeling of being a real man made Dave feel great. Using racial/ cultural criticism, the reader can analyze Richard Wright’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man through Dialogue, Setting, and Character relationships.

In the story the man who was almost a man the story is about Dave trying to grow up and be old enough have some privileges. Dave is an African American which in those days they didn’t have all the rights and privileges that the white people had, especially with his education. When Dave is talking to Joe he says, “ Ah’ll tell yuh, Mistah Joe, ef yuh promise yuh won’t tell.” (Wright). This example right here explains that his use of speech was not proper. He wasn’t able to respond like Joe is in the story. Joe had proper English in the story because he was a white man who was better educated. ’Now don yuh try to maka fool outta me, boy! Ef we did hava gun, yuh wouldn’t have it.” (Wright). This is another example of where the dialogue is thrown off and not proper. Also this use of language to Dave brings him down. He wants a gun to feel like a man but his mother keeps calling him a boy which brings down everything to rock bottom. All Dave wants to do is have that gun so he will have more respect towards him and be able to feel like a true man but no one is giving him that opportunity.


The setting of this story is another aspect that troubles him into becoming a man. The typical African American family was a lot lower than the average white family. The white families were a lot higher in society. His Dave is black his manhood has to be proved to everyone unlike the white boys that automatically reach that. “Aw Ma, Ah done worked hard alla summer n ain ast yuh fer nothing, is Ah, now.’” (Wright). This example proves that Dave has to work hard for his money in the fields. The white boys have it easier also they receive allowance which makes it all so much better for them. Dave wants a gun so badly to become a man and he has the money to be able to buy it, it’s just that Dave’s dad doesn’t want him wasting the money on something like that. “’Yuh’ll git in trouble. N ef yo pa jus thought Ah let yuh have the money t buy a gun he’d hava fit.” (Wright). In that time and town it is known that you are suppose to buy your needs not your wants. Nobody really made enough money back then to buy everything they wanted. They had to save for the things they absolutely needed to have to live.


Dave doesn’t have the best relationship with his family. He gets along more with his mom then dad but still she is strict on him. He still doesn’t have a lot of respect for her. For example, “Naw, Ma.” He grabbed for it. Gimme ma catlog, Ma.” (Wright). He doesn’t ask politely he just wants it and doesn’t care how he asks. You can plainly tell from his tone he does not care and has no respect at all for her. “Quit hollerin at me! Whut’s wrong wid yuh? Yuh Crazy?” (Wright). His mom knows show disrespectful he is. So she puts him in his place by yelling at him. She knows his son doesn’t respect her and that is why their family isn’t as close as they should be.


This story was all about racial criticism and showed all the different types. In that time back then in the south they weren’t as educated as people are now. The whole story Dave was looking for something to feel grown up. He went through everything to get a gun and when he finally did he made a mistake and put him back into square one. He shot the mule and to the end of the story he was paying his boss off. That made his dad leading not to trust him because of his bad decisions. In the man who was almost a man racial criticism was showed in multiple ways. Including the setting, family relationships, and the dialogue.





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