In "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," what do the field, store, and house suggest about the nature of Dave's environment?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everything about Dave's environment speaks to the oppression and poverty in which he, his family, his co-workers and peers must live.

Wright engages all of our senses in order to make the reader see, smell, taste, and hear the reality of Dave's world. Consider this example, when Dave enters Joe's store in the "paling light" after having worked in the fields all day,

A yellow lantern glowed on the front porch. He mounted steps and went through the screen door, hearing it bang behind him. There was a strong smell of coal oil and of mackerel fish.

From this description, we know that Dave has worked until nearly dark, and the store provides the most basic and cheapest of supplies.

At home, we see more of Dave's marginal existence, as evidenced by the inexpensive food the family eats. At the table, Dave "scooped up peas and swallowed fat meat without chewing."

The fields are not given a good deal of description, but all of Wright's comments make us feel how isolated and lonely Dave must be. He walks home alone, ploughs alone, shoots Jenny alone, leaves alone. Although one tends to think of the fields as being a place full of people, Wright's subtle clues bespeak the segregated existence of the workers, in more than one sense of the term.

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The Man Who Was Almost a Man

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