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Richard Wright’s The Man Who Was Almost a ManThe 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 tomake it in a world dominated by whites. The story centers upon one 17-year boy who hasvery 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 liketo 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 Davemust have felt back in those times. Dave’s struggle was man versus society in an era where his skin color meant more than his actions. He was unable to interact with thewhite society and was outcast by his peers because of his age. He believed at this time in his life that being a man was the more important than life itself. Buying a gun and learning to shoot was his solution to becoming a man. This was not the case though. The first time he fired the gun it numbed his hands and fell to the ground. He also shot Mr. Hawkin’s mule, which he was unable to cover up. Now everyone would know what he had done which would give his peers a bad impression of him. He would not gain their respect, nor…

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… 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.

Works Cited

Blau, Eleanor. “The Works of Richard Wright, This Time Published as Written.” The New York Times 28 Aug. 1991, final ed., sec. B: 1-2.

Brignano, Russell Carl. An Introduction to the Man and His Works. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970.

Fabre, Michel. The World of Richard Wright. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985.

Hannon, Charles. “Teaching the conflicts as a temporary Instructor.” College Literature 6 (1997): 126-141.

Joyce, Joyce Ann. Richard Wright’s Art of Tragedy. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1986.

Walker, Margaret. Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, a Critical Look at

His Work. New York: Warner Books, 1988.

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