The Man Who Was Almost A Man Essay

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The growth of characters in stories is traditionally based upon a need to change in order to overcome a conflict. However, in Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost A Man”, Dave Saunder’s conflict is changing as a person, becoming older, and achieving all the status that being a man entails. “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 215). This quote exemplifies the constant urge to be respected as a man, an intangible asset that Dave hopes to achieve with the acquiring of tangible assets. Richard Wright utilizes physical objects and social interactions to shape the motivation of the protagonist, Dave Saunders, into a character motivated by a yearning for a premature transition into adulthood.
The short story has many openly expressed examples of Dave’s strained attempts to reach manhood. His transition is driven by physical objects and entities that are symbolic of his growth as a person. For example, the story centers around Dave and the new gun that he has acquired. This gun represents his immaturity and inexperience, as well as his longing to become mature. An interaction that expresses this growth is
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“He feels that his life is so harsh and overwhelming that escape is the only solution” (Sparknotes.com). His motivation drives him to retrieve the gun, hop on a train, and escape his problems. While his motivation is to become an adult and mature, his actions portray that he is still a child and incapable of making rational decisions at all times. Dave also has an issue with associating physical objects and social status with maturity, and his motivation moves him to feel powerful when in possession of or around these items. “Dave doesn 't have any interest in using that gun to hurt anyone, he can 't deny the power—the downright machismo—that he feels when he holds the weapon”
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