The Man Who Was Almost a Man: A Clear Depiction of The Male Social Struggle
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The Man Who Was Almost a Man: A Clear Depiction of The Male Social Struggle

The African American Male's Emascualted Representaion

The Man Who Was Almost a Man:  A Clear Depiction of The Male Social Struggle

Richard Wright’s short story The Man Who Was Almost a Man, is the story of Dave Saunders, a young boy who struggles to find his place and identity in a world filled with limitations. Wright uses Dave’s character as a representation of repression and the objectification of the black male.Wright introduces us to a story that openly speaks about the emasculated representation of the black male in the hands of white males. He in fact uses various symbols to reflect on the lives of many blacks in a time in which they were repressed by the will of a system that continuously looked to dehumanized them as a community. As we were able to see in the story Dave is a seventeen-year-old young man who desperately desires his manhood to be acknowledged by his fellow coworkers, and by his community. Wright does an amazing job in depicting the lives of many young black males by using Dave’s character as this unstoppable outrageous young man who is trying to defy a system that is reinforced by a systematic, and rigid sense of discrimination. During Dave’s emotional journey in discovering his manhood he uses his “gun” as a physical method to reinforce his value as a young man. In owning a “gun”, Dave, finds a way to become more valuable in his life circle. He envisions the gun to have this magical power to give him the masculinity and imperativeness he needs to be respected by his fellow coworkers, and the society he lives in. In analyzing Dave’s approach to the “gun” we must take in consideration the historical importance of the story. The story takes place in the southern state of Mississippi, during a time period in which the majority of the negro community were subjected to denigrating, and unhuman treatments in the hands of the white establishment. As we analyze Dave’s behavior we can see an exasperated mood in his attitude towards the people that surround him. If we pay close attention in the following quote we will be able to see how the possession of the “gun” allows Dave to feel liberated from the repression he lives in, “Could kill a man with a gun like this. Kill anybody, black or white. And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him. They would have to respect him.” (1065) In this quote, we can see that the symbolism of the gun is in fact being persistent through the process of Dave’s maturity. Throughout the story, the “gun” is the representation of the possibility of liberation, and Dave’s accomplishment of manhood, masculinity and an absolute defiance to the racial system that insists in having black males labeled as inferior. Trough the constant repetition of the “gun”, Richard Wright, is trying to reinforce the idea that manhood was of extreme relevance to Dave as it meant the detachment of a cycle filled with violence. Scrutinizing a little deeper into the constant mention, Wright, does to the gun, and the connection he makes to Dave’s emotional and physical transition to manhood, we must first understand that for many black male’s their manhood was the only thing that they could possibly possess that could set them free. The masculinity of black males was often ridiculed by white males who often referred to them as “boys”. This adjective was a method to maintain them repress, and to undermine and denied them their value in their society. This concept of an unattainable reach of masculinity and respect is what triggers Dave’s obsession to obtain a “gun”, as it represents his chance to amend the perception people had of him.

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