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Timothy S Shoemaker English 2900 Prof Horwitz Paper 2-Aswering Q 2 It Takes A Gun To Make A Man Richard Wrights short story The Man Who Was Almost A Man is centered on the protagonists transition to manhood and his misunderstanding of what being a man means The young man Dave views his masculinity as external to himself - in the ability to own and shoot a gun Owning a gun for Dave symbolizes becoming a man Dave Saunders is seventeen younger and assuredly less mature than his associates At the beginning of the story he associates size with owning a gun Them niggers cant understand nothing One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting then they couldnt talk to him as though he were a little boy He slowed looking at the ground Shucks Ah ain scarda them even ef they are biggern me 428 It is made clear at this point that Wright is developing the gun as a phallic symbol This is corroborated by the frequent references to masculinity becoming a man and size in conjunction with having a gun Dave looks toward the gr ound - an action that focuses on the lower part of the body and also associates the gun with a region below the belt The phallic association is also evident in Daves reaction to the guns in the catalogue Lawd ef Ah only had tha pretty one He could almost feel the slickness of the weapon with his fingers If he had a gun like that he would polish it and keep it shining so it would never rust N Ahd keep it loaded by Gawd 430 Part of becoming a man is realizing that you can no longer feign ignorance or stupidity when things go wrong - part of being a man is accepting responsibility for your actions The association between the gun Daves masculinity
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