"The Man Who was Almost a Man" by Richard Wright
Gandhi once said “Personally, I hold that a man, who deliberately and intelligently takes a pledge and then breaks it, forfeits his manhood”. This quote relates to “The Man Who was Almost a Man” because Dave misuses a gun which shows his immaturity. In reading “The Man Who was Almost a Man” as a racial critic, Dave’s culture is diverse from others. This is shown through the story by the connection between guns and manhood, race and manhood, and revealing the dialect of the African-American culture. Dave feels he is not a man without a gun, but since he is still a child he misuses the gun which leads him down a path to discovering what it really means to be a man.
The connection between guns and manhood is culturally relevant in this story because Dave felt he wasn’t a man without a gun. He felt as if he was a child because he had no way to protect himself or his family. An example from the story would be “We needa gun in the house. Yuh kin never tell whut might happen'” (Wright 5). Dave explains to his mother that a gun in the house will protect them from anything.
Another connection would be that since Dave is so close to being 18 years old he believes he should be treated as a man. If he wants to buy a gun with his money, then he should be able to buy it. Proof of this would be “Ahm almos a man now. Ah wans a gun” (5). At 18 many men believe that they are “men” and that they should be able to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. “The Man Who was Almost a Man” comments on the relation between race and manhood by the way Dave is talked to, and the terms that are used.
An example would be “Lawd knows yuh don need no gun. But yer pa does. Yuh bring it right back t me, yuh hear? Ahma put it up. Now ef yuh don, Ahma have yuh pa lick yuh so hard yuh won fergit it” (6). In this quote not only does Dave’s mother talk to him like he’s a child, but the term “lick” is used.
“Lick” is a term meaning; to beat, or to hit. Another example would be when Dave’s father is addressing him about the gun. Dave’s father is a strong African-American man and shows his son that he still is a little boy. His father states “Yuh wan me t take a tree n beat yuh till yuh talk?” (10). He shows his strength by saying he’ll beat Dave with a tree, and he also shows that he is the man in the family and he should be in charge. “The Man Who was Almost a Man” shows the discipline and dialect of the African- American culture.
Not literal discipline, but the sort of discipline that is needed in life. Dave has worked all summer, but he never sees any of his pay. He has the respect for his mother to let her save his wages. As mentioned in “Thas how come Ah has Mistah Hawkins t pay you wages t me…” (5). Dave is a young African-American boy who values his mother’s choices.
Something else a stranger might learn about the culture is the dialect. The way the story is written shows the actual way Dave’s family pronounces words. An example would be “Ah got it from Joe, at the sto” (9). It seems unintelligent, but it’s just the way Dave and his family speaks. “The Man who was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright shows distinct cultural differences. It recognizes the connection between guns and manhood.
It also comments on the relation of race and manhood, by showing Dave’s attempt to be a “man”. It reveals parts of the African-American culture that strangers might not know. Such as the dialect and the amount of respect they had for their elders. The culture is different now than from the time period of this story. The dialect is not exactly the same, but there are still some blacks who talk like that. “The Man Who was Almost a Man” is a great example of cultural diversity.
Works Cited Wright, Richard. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”. n.d.