Autonomy In The Short Story 'Almos' A Man By Richard Wright

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In the short story “Almos’ a Man” by Richard Wright, the protagonist Dave is a 17-year-old African-American boy living in the Deep South after the abolishment of slavery. Although slavery has been abolished, a race dynamic is clearly still at play in the story. Dave thinks that he is being treated like a boy by those around him, but he wants to become a man. He does this by convincing his mother to let him buy a gun from the local white storekeeper, Joe. This “shortcut” to manhood leads him to make many enormous mistakes that negatively affect his achievement of autonomy. Through this, Richard Wright is trying to show that adolescents often demand autonomy, but they are not ready to accept the responsibility that comes with it. Throughout the story, Dave demonstrates over and over that he is not ready for the responsibility that comes with manhood by lying. An example of Dave’s childish lies and deceit happens after he had shot the mule, and he tries to cover up his…show more content…
After Dave shoots the mule, he buries the gun and tells Mr. Hawkins that Jenny hurt and killed herself on the plow. Later at night, he sneaks out to retrieve the gun. He shoots it four times, or until the gun is empty. “Blooooom! Blooooom! Click, click. There! It was empty. If anybody could shoot a gun, he could. He put the gun into his hip pocket and started across the fields.” (268) After shooting the gun, he stands in front of the railroad tracks, listening to a train approach. Suddenly, he realizes that he can take control of his life and decides to jump on a train and run away. His decision to jump on the train was impulsive and not thought through, as shown by his last thoughts before jumping on: “Ah betcha Bill wouldn't do it!” (269)Dave’s not thinking through his actions before running away shows that he is not ready for
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