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Richard Wright's The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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Richard Wright's The Man Who Was Almost a Man The Man Who Was Almost a Man is a fictitious short story about an uneducated black boy's quest to become a man. Growing up in the early 1900's was a very hard task for most black people. The lack of education was one of the hardest hills they had to overcome to make it in a world dominated by whites. The story centers upon one 17-year boy who has very low self-esteem caused by his peers. He believes that owning a gun will gain him respect with others and thus make him a man. The title of this short story has several different ways of being interpreted because the time and atmosphere in which it was written. The short story was written in first person narrative, which gives a graphic account of the personality of the character Dave. The short story is also written in a dialect of an uneducated black boy which gives the reader the feel of what is was like to be that young man back in the early 1900's. The stories title The Man Who Was Almost a Man holds many different meanings to how Dave must have felt back in those times. ...read more.


The society around which Dave was living was very harsh towards blacks. Dave's struggle with power and oppression was evident in his lack of judgement in his actions. His struggle with his self-identity was ruining his life. Much of Wright's works were written through his own past (Blau B1). He had grown up in the times he was writing about and expressed his hardships in his fiction. His writing style puts you in the main characters every thought and action to enable a sense of emotion. Dave's freedom from the life he had became challenged. Dave became obsessed with the idea that it was time to be a man and seemed to lose interest in his family. His father had oppressed his childhood. Plowing a field was more important than school in his father's eyes. Dave obsession with being a man contained a hidden meaning. It contained a sense of freedom from his parents, mainly his father. His father had beaten him severely on many occasions and Dave was afraid the killing of the mule was going to bring another one. He had to run and find himself. ...read more.


Dave is her favorite son and this is evident in her actions. Dave's dad is portrayed as a harsh man, fighting for survival in a time when blacks were unable to better themselves. Wright avoided the confrontation between Dave's mom and dad on the issue of why she had given Dave the money for the gun. Wright's beliefs in family are embedded in his writings stemming from his own childhood. The racial point, which is not as evident but still present, characterizes Wright's earliest works written around 1930 (Brignano 45). Dave's struggle to become a man was one he thought could be obtained by a simple act of owning a gun. The Man Who Was Almost a Man was written about all people in their transition from child to adult. Wright captures his meaning by describing his childhood through Dave. Wright's cunning use of first person narrative projects a harsh realism of life as a black in the early 1900's. His use of vocabulary helps define the character's education in the story. Dave's struggle with life is shown through his bad judgement in thinking a gun will make him a man. Life was hard back then and being accepted played a big role in all blacks searching for that one thing that would make them accepted within their society. ...read more.

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