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"The Man Who Was Almost A Man" reviewed as a racial critic

Catherine Ponder says, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” When reading “The Man Who was Almost a Man” as a racial critic, it became clear that the grammar, cultural aspects, and family relationships were of key point in the analysis of Richard Wright’s literature piece. Knowing how to forgive is an important characteristic. How would you feel if something happened that was an accident and you were treated unfairly because of race or age? Or both? In the story, “The Man Who was Almost a man,” that is exactly what happens to Dave Saunders. The grammar, the cultural aspects, and the family relationships in this story help make one to view the story in the minority’s perspective because the author grabs the emotions of the reader and gears them towards the main character, Dave.
In the first place, the story “The Man who was Almost a Man,” is a prime example for cultural and racial criticism because of the grammar and the word choice. The grammar used in the story displays the illiteracy of the people in the story, mainly the African-American family. Often, words are shortened and combined. For instance, “Ah’ll tell yuh, Mistah Joe, ef yuh promise yuh won’t tell” (Wright1). In this quote the words are spelled exactly how they sound and how they are said. Another example, “Now, ef yuh gonna act a fool over that ol book, Ah’ll take it n burn it up” (3). In this quoted words are shortened and combined, like the word “gonna” is a combination of “going” and “to.” The word choice is also apparent in this quote; the phrase “act a fool” should actually be “act like a fool.” The Dialogue in this story is a cultural and racial barrier proving the illiteracy among African-Americans in the time period of the story.

Pursuing the cultural and racial criticism further in the story of “The Man Who was Almost a Man,” there are many setting and cultural aspects that contribute to the criticism; the social status of the Saunder family in the story, for example. African-Americans, in the story, still work in the fields for White men. However, African-Americans hold themselves to a higher standard because they want to try and fit in with the rest of society, even though they are not treated like the rest of society. For instance, “Now don yuh try to maka fool outta me, boy! Ef we did hava gun, yuh wouldn’t have it!” (5). In this quote Dave’s mother makes it clear to her son that she does not want to be made a fool of by him purchasing a gun. Another example, “Well, Boy, looks like yuh done bought a dead mule! Hahaha!” (10). This quote is a good example of displaying the cultural regard for younger people and their race.

Lastly, the character relationships in this short story were between family members and African-Americans and Caucasians. Family relationships, in the story, show respect and discipline within the family. For instance, “’Yuh wan me t take a tree n beat yuh till yuh talk.’ ‘Nawshuh!’” (10) this conversation is between Dave and his father. Dave shows respect toward his father by calling him sir. This quote also shows the discipline within their family. They take serious measures under serious circumstances. The African-American and Caucasian relationships in the story show a social status difference. The story takes place after the slaves were freed but Whites still shows discrimination towards African-Americans. For example, “’Come on and tell the truth,’ said Mr. Hawkins. ‘Ain’t nobody going to hurt’ you’” (9). This quote proves that Dave was not a slave and it displays the relationship between Blacks and Whites because honesty is more important than race in the story.

At hand, the grammar, the cultural aspects, and the family relationships in this story help make one to view the story in the minority’s perspective because the author grabs the emotions of the reader and gears them towards the main character, Dave. While reading the story, the reader can’t help but feel sorry for Dave and feel that he was not being treated fairly. “Dave turned and walked slowly. He heard people laughing. Dave glared, his eyes welling with tears. Hot anger bubbled in him. Then he swallowed and stumbled on.”



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