LIT Term Paper

LIT Term Paper - A Struggle for Identity in Richard...

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A Struggle for Identity in Richard Wright’s “A Man Who Was Almost a Man” Lit2020 Section 18 Allison Badely One of the biggest parts of growing up is finding out who you are. This is a struggle everyone goes through as they age. Some find identity in a soul religion, some find it in a job, and others find it in material items. Richard Wright’s short story, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” depicts a boys journey into adulthood as he strives to create his own identity. Wrights story focuses on a young man struggling for the respect of a man, not a boy, so he purchases a gun believing this will solve his problems. I will analyze his actions upon obtaining the gun to determine if the gun truly defines his identity. Wright’s main character, Dave, is a boy of only 17 who works in the fields for his earnings, which he gives to his mother. Immediately Wright takes the reader into the mind of Dave unveiling his thoughts about those he works with. “One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, then they couldn’t talk to him as though he were a little boy” (Wright 242). The gun is introduced in the first paragraph which immediately signals to it being an important part to the story. It is also references as being “manly” by Dave, which may allude to his immaturity. By connecting manhood to an object, it seems he has yet to understand that manhood is so much more, and has much to do with behavior. After a long day of work, Dave goes to the local store with the intent of getting a magazine to look for a gun to purchase. He walks in with such an air of confidence; however, it all begins to disappear when the shop owner enters the room. It appears Dave has all the confidence in the world until approached and he must act on that confidence. This was also displayed in the very
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beginning of the story when he was thinking to himself about all the other men working with him. He has all these thoughts of how he wants to act and what he wants to do, but they almost seem like that of a child who is upset they are in timeout. He has not been treated as he feels he should be, so he devises a plan to get what he wants. Dave attempts to be a man when discussing the gun with his mother. “But, Ma, we needa gun. Pa ain got no gun. We needa gun in the house. Yuh kin never tell whut might happen.” (Wright 246). Although initially she says no, Dave explains that his father needs one to protect the house and agrees when he gets it, he’ll bring it straight home to her. However, the reader knows this is not the real reason he wants this gun. The benefit the reader has over other characters is the ability to see all sides of Dave, not just the persona he puts off for his mother. This also allows the reader to judge Dave and determine whether he is a mature man or a young boy.
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course LIT 2020 taught by Professor Can'trecall during the Spring '08 term at FSU.

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LIT Term Paper - A Struggle for Identity in Richard...

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