In "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," how do the gun and Dave's actions demonstrate childishness, unreliability, and ignorance?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An adult takes responsibility for his actions; he has the maturity, responsibility, wisdom, and respect necessary to own a gun, which is a weighty responsibility.  Dave does not demonstrate any of these reasons at all.  He wants a gun not to show maturity, or to protect a family, but to show everyone how cool he is.  He demonstrates childishness, unreliability and ignorance in several instances.  First of all, he lies about getting the gun.  Then, he lies about giving it to his dad and instead brings it into the fields.  Then, after he shoots Jenny, he lies to his parents and to the landlord about what happened in the field.  He then promises to return the gun and work off the debt, but unreliably doesn't do either, taking the gun with him as he skips town.  He is childlike as he waves the gun at the landlord's house as he leaves and feels the world is unfair as they require him to pay off his debts.  He is ignorant about how to use a gun, about what sorts of responsibilities come with it, and most of all, about what makes a true man.

I feel Wright was overly generous in calling Dave "almost a man"; in my opinion, his childlike petulance and immaturity throughout the entire story make him VERY far away from being able to be called an adult with any sort of respect.

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The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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