“The Man Who Was Almost a Man”

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Using racial/cultural cristicism, the reader can analyze Richard Wright’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man through symbol, family relationships, and dialogue. “A Man Who was Almost a Man”, was written by Richard Wright around the year 1961. Wright was born and raised in Mississippi; growing up he was a victim to racial hatred, and whose education ended at the ninth grade. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” is about a boy by the name of Dave and his desire for manhood. Dave thinks that if he owned a gun his fellow workers would no longer treat him like a boy. Dave also fails to realize that lying won’t protect him and will only bring more problems in the future.
The gun is a symbol in the story because it shows power. “In the gray light of dawn he held it loosely, feeling a sense of power” (Wright). Dave wants a gun because he thinks he will have power and that he could stand up for himself. Another example of symbolism is seen in the following quote. “And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him” (Wright). Dave thinks that by him having the gun he will have respect. By having a weapon, it does not make him better than others. Dave is immature and acts like a child when he begs his mother for the gun. He kisses up to his mother just to have that gun in his own hands. Dave wants to fire the gun far enough away so nobody can hear. When the town found out he shot a mule accidently, they were laughing for his stupidity. People need to realize that you cannot become a man just by one quick event.

In “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” family is important because Dave’s mother is the one who is in control and the one who mostly takes care of him. “He did not want to mention money before his father. He would do much better by concerning his mother when she was alone. He looked at his father uneasily out of the edge of his eye” (Wright). His scared to disobey his parents, proves that he still lives under his household rules and isn’t a man. He isn’t capable to have a gun, especially at the age of seventeen. Another example occurring with his family is the following. “But he had not fired it; he had been afraid that his father might hear” (Wright).Proves that he’s still a little kid and isn’t able to handle a gun because he’s scared of his dad. Dave is scared of his father’s reaction to this gun situation. If he was a man he would have to deal with this himself, and he’s still going to his parents.

The way Dave and his family speak and use their words doesn’t make sense and people who are usually uneducated tend to get treated differently.“ He slowed, looking at the ground. Shucks, Ah ain scareda them even ef they are biggem me!” (Wright).Dave comes from an uneducated family, kids who are uneducated tend to be more into violence. The way Dave uses his grammar reflects their education. “But Ma, Ah wans a gun. Yuh kin lemme have two dollahs outta mah money. Please, Ma. I kin give it to Pa. . . Please, Ma! Ah loves yuh,Ma”(Wright). This quote in the story shows how Dave shortens his words, like kin or wans; as well as misspelling words. Throughout the story the grammar is incorrect and the characters seem to make up all sorts of slang. Readers must realize that back then blacks did not receive the best education therefore; Dave doesn’t know how to speak properly.

Using racial/cultural cristicism, the reader can analyze Richard Wright’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man through symbol, family relationships, and Dialogue. In today’s society, people can’t even smoke at the age of seventeen, what makes it better to be able to handle a gun at that age? Dave's behavior suggests that he still has a lot to learn in becoming a man. Then again, old Joe did sell the gun to a minor. However, at the end of the story when Dave decides to keep the gun and run away rather than face further humiliation. Does running away make Dave a man? In becoming a man, you have to take responsibility and have honor. You can’t run away from your fears, running away rather than dealing with it makes it worse.





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