Reader Response for The Man Who Was Almost A Man

“If he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him” (Wright). The short story, “The Man Who Almost a Man” was written by Richard Wright, a man who had quite a hard life. He was an orphan with his brother for some time because his father left them when he was only five years old. This grandmother thought that fiction was a form of the devil so there were no books allowed in the house. This story was about a boy who thought buying a gun would make him more powerful but ended up making him look like a coward. The short story The Man Who Was Almost a Man used racial/culture criticism through Dialogue, Character relationship, and setting.
First, the characters used dialogue that showed racial/cultural criticism in this short story. While the store owner walked in Dave said, “How yuh, mistah Joe” (Wright)? This just shows that he has the utmost respect for the white store owner by calling him mister. Then at the same time the store owner was more informal then Dave was when greeting the store owner, which was slightly rude. Dave’s mother asked, “N it don cos but two dollahs” (Wright)? This shows that Dave’s mother was not well educated and used poor grammar. Not having an education contributes to how people look at her in society, like an uneducated poor black woman.
Next, the characters relationships represent how the author used racial/cultural criticism throughout this story. Dave thought “He would do much better by cornering his mother when she was alone” (Wright). Dave knows that his mother was the weaker one between his two parents. This is a great example how their culture is because he knows who he can get his way with. Like if, he wants to do something but needs permission, he will go to his mother first because he knows that she is more likely to let him do what he wants to. When Dave had got the gun “He had not come straight home with it as his mother had asked; instead he had stayed out in the fields, holding the weapon in his hands aiming it now and then at some imaginary foe” (Wright). Culture wise this is a good example that how he didn’t respect what his mom said to him. He just did what he wanted because he believes what he wants to do is more important than what she wants him to do, therefore he completely negates her opinion.
Also, the setting showed how Dave’s family setting played a role of racial/cultural criticism. Dave’s mother told him, “ahm keepin tha money sos yuh kin have cloes t go to school this winter” (Wright). Dave’s mother was worried about him having warm clothes for school in the winter. She knows that getting an education is important on how people look at them. Also Dave has to pay for his own clothes for winter to go to school with the money that he worked for all summer because his family doesn’t have enough money to support them all. Dave thought that owning a gun would make others respect him more and give him more power before which didn’t work out the way he planned it to. Dave watched, “Joe laughed and whipped his greasy white face with a red bandanna” (Wright). When Dave says that Joe had a greasy face he is trying to imply that Joe was lazy and sneaky.
So, there were examples of all, dialogue, character relationship, and setting in the short story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” relating to racial/cultural criticism. Racial and cultural criticism comes in to play in many short stories like this. Some people like Dave think that owning a gun would make him higher up in society, at first. But soon will they learn that his mother thought that getting an education was more important and would make them higher up in society then a gun ever could.





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