The Man Who Was Almost a Man Characters

Richard Wright


(Short Stories for Students)

Jim Hawkins
Jim Hawkins owns the large plantation where Dave works as a farm laborer. Dave is working on Hawkins’s farm for the summer in order to save money for school. When Dave accidentally shoots the mule, Hawkins charges Dave fifty dollars—equal to two years labor—for the dead mule.

At the end of the story Dave longs to shoot at Hawkins’s big house in order to scare him and gain a sense of power in relation to Hawkins, but he has already used up his bullets. As a wealthy white man, Hawkins represents all of the power that Dave lacks.

Joe is a white merchant in the rural community where the story takes place. He lends Dave a catalogue and when he learns that he wants to buy a gun, offers to sell him a revolver for two dollars.

Ma is Dave’s mother. She controls the finances in the family, so Dave asks her to give him money to buy the revolver. At first she responds by calling him a fool, but she agrees when he tells her that he loves her and points out that his father has no gun. Dave is not afraid to defy his mother and finds her easy to manipulate.

See Bill Saunders.

Bill Saunders
Bill Saunders is Dave’s father. He is a strong, authoritative figure who questions Dave about his relationship with Hawkins and threatens to beat him after he is caught shooting the mule. However, his actions have little influence on the...

(The entire section is 497 words.)