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fiction_midterm - Professor Goshgarian Fall 2007 Final...

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Professor Goshgarian Fiction Fall 2007 Final ENG 166 Milton Marshall Essay Question 1 Dave from “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright, and Connie from “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates illustrate adolescents that realized their adult selves through enduring a dramatic event. Dave and Connie initially lived in naïveté, yet, through their traumatic experiences, they paved their way to adulthood. Dave possesses a strong desire to own a gun because, according to him, “Shucks, a man oughta hava little gun aftah he done worked hard all day.” Dave justifies his reasoning, saying that since he is 17, he is almost a man. However, he still immaturely believes that he deserves a reward after working. Moreover, a gun is not a typical reward for a menial accomplishment. Dave does not realize that due to his impoverishment he must allow his mother to save his salary in order to purchase clothes for school. Neither Dave nor his family have the purchasing power to buy a frivolous item such as a gun, and more so because they live in the country where there is no pressing danger. Guns are supposed to be used for practical matters such as hunting or defending one self, and not as a prize for completing an obligatory task. Upon completing his field plowing for his boss Mr. Hawkins, Dave decides to go to Mr. Joe’s store to borrow his Sears & Roebuck catalog to compare guns. Before reaching the store, Dave becomes nervous asking Mr. Joe for the catalog, “He felt very confident until he saw fat Joe walk in through the rear door, then his courage began to ooze.” Although Dave believes he is man enough to own a gun, he becomes nervous at
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the sight of a man, and the thought of interacting with one. After Dave nervously asks for the catalog, he walks home to ask his mother for the 2 dollars to purchase Mr. Joe’s gun. The violent descriptions of Dave’s preparation for dinner: “When he had splashed water on his face and hands, he groped back to the kitchen and fumbled in a corner for the towel. He bumped into a chair; it clattered to the floor,” demonstrates his awkward and klutzy adolescent movements, proving that he is not a man yet just a boy. When the time arrives to ask his mother for the 2 dollars, Dave becomes nervous again, “When his father and brother had left the kitchen, he still sat and looked again at the guns in the catalogue, longing to muster courage enough to present his case to his mother.” As an adult, Dave should be able to present his case to his mother with confidence yet it is obvious that Dave’s mother still controls his life. Dave believes that his masculinity must be defined by owning a gun yet he lacks the wisdom to understand the definition of masculinity. The definition of masculinity is subjective, but anyone can own a gun.
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