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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the ending is where Wright's story becomes powerful.  The final image of Dave leaving town and jumping on a train to go North with only the gun in his pocket is compelling.  On one hand, Dave does take an active step in "becoming a man," according to social construction.  He defines his own sense of self and identity in going away.  He leaves the belittling world behind. He asserts power.  In this light, the ending of the story affirms that Dave can become a man.

Yet, it is in this element where Wright proves to be skilled.  Dave's firing the gun into empty space and the obsession with the gun's perceived power is what motivates him.  Dave believes that in owning the gun, he has "become a man."  In this ending, one recognizes how weak Dave actually is.  He has become victimized by social constructions that define masculinity, as if in owning and holding a gun, manhood is achieved.  It is only because Dave's world that surrounds him is so emasculating that the mere feeling of holding the gun is what fills him with the belief of being masculine.  This ending is one in which it becomes clear that Dave is undertaking his decision for the wrong reasons.  The title of "almos a man" is where Dave resides.  He will never be a "a man" who is directly in control of what he does and who he is through his own autonomy.  He will only be a shadow of a man, conforming to a social construction of manhood more than his own reflection.  In this, the title and the ending of the work converge into Dave's sad reality.

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The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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