Richard Wright’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man

African-American Studies / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
This is a critical essay on Richard Wright’s short story, The Man Who Was Almost a Man. This tale is a twisted parody of the hunt, where a boy becomes a man by learning to take responsibility for his actions and doing what is best for himself. This parody shows the protagonist?s desire to become a respected equal among the other adults with whom he feels he has earned the right to belong, through his growing age and hard work in the fields. The paper includes many quotes from the story exploring themes and symbolism.
`Wright subverts a typical hunt genre to create a parody of a boy reaching manhood. In `The Man Who Was Almost a Man,` the protagonist, Dave, tries to reach his potential as an adult and earn respect from other men. However, his position in society as a downtrodden adolescent, who toils like a workhorse, does not allow him the dignity he deserves. By shooting the mule, he is given a chance to become a man in the only avenue available to him; he runs away on the train to find a new future. `Ahead the long rails were glinting in the moonlight, stretching away to somewhere, somewhere where he could be a man` (1128). This newfound freedom and manhood, which comes from his first ironic kill, satisfies the rite of passage in the hunt and brings him the independence and responsibly he deserves.`


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