The Man Who Was Almost a Man Questions and Answers
by Richard Wright

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In the story The Man Who was Almost a Man, does Dave demonstrate that he has reached maturity in the story's closing? Does he come of age by the end of the story?

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mickey2bailey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the story Dave demonstrates that he is just a 17 year old "boy" and not ready to make the rite of passage into manhood.  He felt that a gun was a status symbol to be a man and if he owned it everyone would respect him.  This was a total fallacy and only made the other people in his life ridicule him and laugh at him.  He then decided to escape reality (punishment and restitution) by getting on the train with the gun and hoping he will end up in a town where people will respect him.  Since he is using the gun as a trophy for manhood this will only lead me to believe he is headed for bigger issues and problems in life.  By leaving, the law could be after him since he broke the law and he could have made his family situation worse because they will have to pick up where he left off and make restitution for his wrongs.  He definitely made a series of bad decisions.

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revolution | Student

For both questions, the answers are NO. He didn't want to face up his mistakes and take control over the whole situation, instead he decided to play coward and hide somewhere to hide away from the problem at hand. He does not live up to his responsibilities and choose the easier way out- to hide away from everything and put his head underground just like a ostrich and run away from any obstacles and setbacks in his life. He choose to escape from realism as he feared that people might punished or even scold him. He wanted to escape into another world, where people will respect his own character.

He thought that having a gun will put a mark on his life and he will progressed into manhood and become real man and people will respect him for who he was. He pictured the gun as a symbol for power and honor but his fallacy proved to be his downfall as people criticized him and make laughing jokes out of his miserable state. And also, he would be in real hot soup with the law enforcement agencies as owning a gun is tantamount to a real crime as carrying weapons is against the law, so leaving right now would be a huge mental blow to his family, as they had to cleared up the terrible mess he left behind due to his selfish decisions and make amendments to his wrong deed, it would be very tiring and painfully tired for the whole family to get burden up just because of his selfish character. He had make a lot of bad and worse decisions in his life as he could not accept the reality check and decide to flee from the truth. He didn't become a true man and this shows how immature and selfish he is to anybody, even to his family members. That also shows that he didn't "coming-of-age" in the end of the story and hadn't reached maturity yet. This ending surely portrays accurately the title of the story "The Man Who Was Almost a Man".

warrisha | Student

I would say no because he went on by running from his problems and facing it. he just wan't to be a man by convincing his mom that he have to buy a gun.dave thinks that buying a gun would prove to everyone that he e did was embarrased himself by showing how immature he really is. 

tal | Student

I would say no. He has the chance to "be a man" and live up to his responsibilities, but instead he jumps a train and runs away from his problems. While he does learn something, he doesn't really mature.