Based on the story "The Man Who Was Almost A Man", what is the meaning of a "man" according to Dave and the adults?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of Wright's most interesting premises of the story is how the concept of masculinity is one that is socially driven.  Part of the reason that Dave wishes so much to be seen as a "man" is because of how he will be viewed by others.  The gun is seen to contain power from an external element.  Dave believes that possessing the gun will make him more of a man.  

Part of what dismays him about his condition is the fact that when Hawkins questions him, everyone else laughs at Dave for his failure.  In this moment, being a "man" is contingent on social perception and viewpoint of others. In a way, Dave leaves because he believes that the social perception of the world around him will preclude him from being viewed as a real "man." It is here where I think that Wright develops the story to be one where social perception of masculinity is driven by others. This external perception is one in which individuals like Dave absorb the social construction around them.  In doing so, being a "man" and masculinity in general is one in which social perception helps to determine individual understanding. It is here where the meaning of a "man" is one that is facilitated by others, absorbed by Dave.

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The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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