What does it mean to be a man? How does one qualify for the title? Is the term "man" simply referring to male human beings, or does it hold a greater measure of meaning in society. In order to get more insight into this subject matter, I consulted, " The Tormont Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary".As I anticipated, the first definition for man stated as following: "An adult human being as distinguished from a female". This definition,did not surprise me, but what did ,was what followed it , it stated: A male human being endowed with such qualities as courage, strength, and fortitude, considered characteristic of manhood". To be a man in our society one must posses such qualities, along with honor, reliability and endurance.
This qualities, may take some years to acquire and elude others all together.As we read "The man who was almost a man" by Richard Wright, we discover that for the main character "Dave", the desire to be a man is defined and based soly on his need for respect through fear. The reader learns early in the story Dave's yearning to break away from boyhood and become a man.He is however immediately misguided in his perception of the journey to manhood. In the fourth sentence of the story, the narrator says, "One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, then they couldn't talk to him as though he were a little boy". As the story starts, Dave's mindset becomes evident.
He connects others respect for him, through their fears and his force. He perceived the gun as his ticket to becoming a man.From the moment he gets the gun he feels its power, "The first movement he made the following morning was to reach under his pillow for the gun.In the gray light of dawn he held it loosely, feeling a sense of power.Could kill a man with a gun like this.Kill anybody, black or white.
And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would respect him"(Wright, 377). "Lawd, ef Ah had just one mo bullet Ah'd taka shot at tha house..