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Racial Critisim

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him, he must regard himself as greater than he is”. This quote relates to how Dave feels about himself, and how he struggles to become a man. This is shown through the use of Dialogue, Characters relationships, and the cultural aspects. Dave feels the need to buy a gun to feel power, and so that people will realize that he is a man.

The first literary element shown is the use of dialogue. For example, “‘you ain’t nothing but a boy. You don’t need a gun.’”(Wright 2) By saying this Mr. Hawkins is telling Dave that he doesn’t need a gun yet because he is still so young. But to Dave the gun means having power, and being a man. But nobody thinks he is ready for all of that. Another example would be, “‘Yuh bring it straight back t me, yuh hear? It be fer pa.’”(6) Dave’s mother doesn’t think that he is responsible enough to carry around a gun, and that it will only cause problems. She is also implying that his father is more able to carry around a gun, because Dave is still a boy to her and everyone else. Another factor that plays into everyone not seeing Dave as a man is because he is an African American. Which is why it’s so frustrating and difficult for Dave.

Another literary element that shows the struggles of Dave becoming a man is the cultural aspects. “‘Good. Since you’re so early, how about plowing that stretch down by the woods?’”(7) This quote shows that Dave had to go by Mr. Hawkins rules, because Dave wasn’t treated as an equal, he always did the hard work for someone that didn’t want to do it themselves. This is why he felt the need to have power, because he always did what everone else said, and he finally realized he wanted to be his own person. Not what people made him be. Another example would be, “‘well, boy, looks like yuh done bought a dead mule! Hahaha!’” When most people got their first kill they would celebrate and that would show them becoming a man. But Dave gets laughed at for accidentally killing the mule. Nobody takes him seriously because they don’t see him as the same as them, which is why everyone makes fun of Dave after the incident.

The third literary element shown in the story would be the characters relationships. “She was stacking the plates away; her hands moved slowly, reflectively.”(5) At this time Dave was asking his mother if he was allowed to by the gun. And she wasn’t taking him very seriously and just kept on putting the dishes away. Because to her this was a complete joke, because she didn’t think Dave would be able to handle a gun, but to Dave this was very serious. Another example that shows the characters relationships would be, “‘thas how come Ah has Mistah Hawkins t pay yo wages t me, cause Ah knows yuh ain got no sense.’”(5) Dave’s mother makes Mr. Hawkins give the money that Dave earned from working to her, because she thinks that if Dave had his own money he would spend it on things that he doesn’t need, and just waste it. Which leads back to why the gun situation. Because why would she let him own guns if she can’t even trust him with his own money.

Dave doesn’t feel like a man, and he hopes to find the power and manhood that he desires through owning his own gun. Throughout the story there are many examples that show the struggle of Dave trying to become a man, for example the characters relationships in the story, the cultural aspects, and the use of dialogue used. Dave feels the need to become a man, but nobody can see him as own, because of his ethnicity. His struggles go much farther than just wanting to own a gun to become a man.



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