“Kill anybody, black or white” (Wright). The man Who Almost a Man was written by Richard Wright, a man who had a rough childhood. His father left when he was five and he and his brother were in an orphanage for some time. This grandmother thought that fiction was a form of the devil so there were no books allowed in the house. This story was about a boy who thought buying a gun would make him more powerful and ended up doing the exact opposite. Dave’s mother allowed him to get a gun and bring it right home, but of course he did not listen to her and he ended up accidently killing the mule at his work the next day. The short story The Man Who Was Almost a Man used racial/culture criticism through Dialogue, Character relationship, and setting.
First, many of the characters said things that showed there was racial/culture criticism in this short story. While the store owner walked in Dave said, “How yuh, mistah Joe” (Wright)? This just shows that he has a lot of respect for the white store owner by calling him mister. The store owner was more informal when greeting Dave than the store owner was. Dave’s mother asked, “N it don cos but two dollahs” (Wright)? This shows that Dave’s mother was not well educated when speaking. She did not know how to use proper grammar when speaking. Not having an education contributes to how people look at her in society. People that don’t have a good education don’t get looked upon as important.
Next, the characters relationships represent how the author used racial/culture criticism throughout the story. Dave thought “He would do much better by cornering his mother when she was alone” (Wright). Dave knows that his mother was the weaker one between his two parents. This is a great example how their culture is because he knows who he can get his way with. In the end he was right about getting his way with his mother since she gave him the money to go purchase the gun. When Dave had got the gun “He had not come straight home with it as his mother had asked; instead he had stayed out in the fields, holding the weapon in his hands aiming it now and then at some imaginary foe” (Wright). This is an excellent example of how he didn’t respect what his mom said to him. Dave just did what he wanted because he doesn’t care about what she told him to do and knew he wasn’t going to get punished for not listening to her.
Also, the setting showed how Dave’s family setting played a role of racial/culture criticism. Dave’s mother told him, “ahm keepin tha money sos yuh kin have cloes t go to school this winter” (Wright). Dave’s mother was worried about him having cloths for school in the winter. She knows that getting an education is important on how people look at them. Also Dave has to pay for his own cloths for winter to go to school with the money that he worked for all summer because his family doesn’t have money. Dave thought that owning a gun would make others respect him more than before which didn’t work out the way he planned. Dave watched, “Joe laughed and whipped his greasy white face with a red bandanna” (Wright). When Dave says that Joe had a greasy face he is trying to imply that Joe was lazy and sneaky.
To sum it all up, dialogue, character relationship, and setting of the short story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” all were examples of using racial/culture criticism. Racial and culture criticism are used in many stories when you don’t even realize it. Some people like Dave think that owning a gun would make him higher up in society. On the other hand his mother thought that getting an education was more important and would make them higher up in society.
Wright, Richard. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”.