Richard Wright’s “The Man Who was Almost a Man” presents a typical coming of age story about a boy name Dave, who struggles with so many things from his ability to control his own money to his ability to tell the truth and take responsibility for his actions. In one study of Wright’s story, Loftis observes that “his desire for a gun and his equating ownership of the gun with manhood seem almost pathetic” (439). Wright’s story emphasizes many issues that are of importance, and what seems to be a continuous pattern is the fact that Dave continues to lie throughout the story, creating a motif. The purpose of the lying in the story is to show that Dave struggles with finding himself as he battles with coming of age.

Wright illustrates that at times Dave acts like a child, so his mother and everyone else around him treat him as such. The fact that Dave has to go to his mom for his own money that he has worked for shows his immaturity of handling it himself. Often he wants to be treated as an adult, yet he does not follow simple directions, specifically from his mother for obtaining the gun which is “t bring it straight back t me, yuh hear?”(1373). It was more to it than just getting a gun. Dave wanted to feel like a man and show that he had power. He believed that “if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him” (1374). Because Dave never returned with the gun, he tried to be cunning with his actions. Later on “when his mother had tiptoed to his bedside late that night and demanded the gun, he had first played possum; then he had told her that the gun was hidden outdoors, that he would bring it to her in the morning. Now he lay turning it slowly in his hands. He broke it, took out the cartridges, felt them, and then put them back” (1374). This is the first instance where Wright shows that Dave lies about his actions, and Dave is so caught up in becoming a “man” that he develops a sense of lying all the time.

Wright precedes a step further, displaying his use of the motif of Dave’s lying. Dave continues searching, trying to find the elegant fit of his manhood. Wright’s ability to include that Dave pre-meditates on the lie that he should tell concerning Jenny the mule enhances the use of the lying motif throughout the story. He couldn’t imagine telling Hawkins he shot Jenny, but he thought perhaps he would “tell em Jenny started gittin wil n fell on the joint of the plow…He walked across the field slowly, head down” (1376). Did he know that deep down he would have to tell the truth? Or was he dreading what was to come? The motif of lying creates a sense of dreadfulness along with Dave’s meaning of growing up. Since Dave has to give an account for Jenny, he finds himself lying again; telling a story “that would hardly happen to a mule” (1376).

While Wright’s story continues on with Dave consistency to lie, he finds himself in a place of discomfort and yet lying once again. After much questioning and trying to get Dave to tell the truth he finally gives in, telling the crowd “Ah wuzn shootin at the mule, Mistah Hawkins. The gun jumped when Ah pulled the trigger….N fo Ah knowed anything Jenny was there a –bleedin” (1377). When his father asked him where the gun was,   It wasn’t  long before  Dave was back to lying,  saying  that he threw the gun in the creek when in reality “he buried it at the foot of a tree” (1375), creating the final instance where he lies. Wrights ability to string together each instance where Dave decides to lie allows the reader to see the connection between each event and why Dave chooses to lie in the first place.

In conclusion, Wright finds himself again making references to the gun that Dave is supposed to be retrieving to take back to his father. The reader is able to see that Dave is not ready to give up his desire for the gun and we realize that he deeply believes that having a gun will make people treat him like a man. In his mind he believes that  if he just had one more bullet he would take a shot at Jim Hawkins house just to scare him a little and “jusa enough t let im know Dave Saunders is a man”(1378).  Wright demonstrates his pattern of lying by showing Dave’s battle with coming of age and his need to lie, in order to keep the gun which he associates with manhood.

Works Cited

Loftis, John E. “Domestic Prey: Richard Wright’s Parody Of The Hunt Tradition In ‘The Man Who Was Almost A Man’.” Studies In Short Fiction 23.4 (1986): 437. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

Wright, Richard. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1370-79.


“Brownies” Vs “The Lesson”

Toni Bambara’s “The Lesson” and ZZ Packer’s “Brownies” both unfold stories that achieve valuable concepts and at the close of the stories, the reader learns the moral. The stories both take unexpected turns. Bambara’s purpose in “The Lesson” is easily recognized whereas Packer’s “Brownies” leave space for the reader to try and figure out what is actually the writer’s intentions. The stories offer a variety of issues from socioeconomic status to racial conflict; causing the problems that arises. These stories are similar but have differences in three main areas: place of events, story-within-a story technique, and resolution.

In Toni Bambara “The Lesson”, Miss Moore asks “well, what did you think of F.A.O Schwarz?”(68); causing the students to ponder and reflect on the specific event throughout the day and the lesson learned. She created a way for students to take in the importance of going to the store in the first place and introducing them to different toys that allowed students to “imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some people can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven?’(69). In the same way ZZ Packer’s “Brownies” creates a scene that allows the reader to reflect on what has happened, although it takes place at camp Crescendo and not in a store.

During the confrontation with troop 909 girls and brownies troop, the brownies troop learn that troop 909 are “delayed learners” and some are “echolalic” (1093);Causing them to repeat words that they hear. Repeating the word Nigger causes confusion to start with; which creates the drama with the brownies troop. The evaluations and reflections in both stories allow the reader to focus on the main event in the stories and why the author chose the order of events in the first place.

Although Bambara’s and Packer’s stories have similarities, the differences of the place of events create the importance of the lesson. Being in the store with toys that cost a lot of money compared to being on a camp ground emphasizes a greater importance of why the author chose these specific locations.  Bambara’s “The Lesson” still goes a step further because of Miss Moore who was not obligated to teach the children anything, but took it upon herself to teach children who seemed to have less than those who could afford the sailboats in the store. Bambara exposes the reader to think on a deeper level and grasp the concept that was being made. Packer’s “Brownies” goes a more detailed route to achieve the moral of the story. Different from Bambara, Packer illustrates a scene that is basic and the reader is able to assume what will happen next, which shows the story on the surface.

Both stories emphasizes a different lesson, however the story within a story technique used by Packer in “Brownies” shows a more powerful scene which also contributes to the story being told. Unlike Packer, Bambara doesn’t tell a story within a story although he could have by giving insight into each child’s life. Bambara’s story illustrates a scene that has a direct purpose from the beginning causing the straight forwardness and not veering off on side stories.

The use of the story within a story by Packer, told from the perspective of Laurel shows the issue of racial conflict as foreshadowed in previous events. The fact that Laurel remembered the day that the Mennonites painted their porch and remembering the words from her father’s mouth and thinking “it was the only time he’d have a white man on his knees doing something for a black man for free” (1095); shows the true intentions of their hearts as well as the racial conflicts that still exists.

The similarities that the stories have are very much relatable, but the ending resolutions contribute to the differences of the two stories. “Brownies” shows how Arnetta the ring leader is ready to teach troop 909 a lesson because she thought that they called them” Niggers” out of freewill. In the end, upon confrontation, the truth comes out causing the girls from the brownie troop to understand what was going on. This allows the reader to see that when in doubt don’t assume just ask; it implies that there may be misunderstandings at times, but you just have to ask questions. Although Arnetta didn’t want to ask questions, but just wanted to confront troop 909 and “teach them a lesson”; it didn’t happen that way.  The story of “The Lesson”, on the other aspect teaches a totally different lesson, but the reader is able to see from the beginning that there was a lesson to be learned.

At the end of “The Lesson” after everything is said and done and everyone has learned something, the narrator-the student states “she can run if she want to and even run faster. But ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nunthin” (69).  She’s emphasizing that that she is going to go on and be the best that she can be, but if you want to be the best you have to do what the best do. Is it just about affording the toys in the expensive store or is it just misplaced values on the things that one may see as a necessity? That day the students learned valuable lessons and sugar specifically states that “I don’t think all of us here put together eat in a year what a sailboat costs”(68). But with this being said, sugar and the rest of the students are content with what they have and make the best out of it and realizes that with the four dollars that they do have they can “go to Hascombs and get half a chocolate layer and then go to the Sunset and still have plenty money for potato chips and ice cream sodas” (69).

The stories may mean different things to different readers, but by getting detailed and creating stories where readers are able to get something out of it meets the goal. While the stories may differ, their similarities allow the reader to think about what makes the stories effective, appealing, and readable.

Works Cited

Packer, ZZ. “Brownies.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s 2014. 1081-95. Print.

Bambara, Toni. “The Lesson.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters.  Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s 2014. 64-69. Print.

An Analysis: The Other Place pertaining to style

Mary Gaitskill’s “The Other Place”, the main character discusses how his son is beginning to do the things that he did when he was younger. Mainly, focusing on the fact that he sees a lot of himself in his son, especially when the movie advertisement comes across the television and “Doug didn’t speak or move” (510). The father states, “I could feel the fascination, the suddenly deepening quality of it. And I don’t doubt that he could feel mine. We sat there and felt it together” (510). Gaitskill opens with first allowing the main character to elaborate on his son Doug and then moving towards his own life while still referencing his son during certain points in the story, as well as times spent with his own dad.  Throughout the story the author’s style conveys many images and moods allowing the reader to develop an understanding of the text.

She precedes a step further to show that the main character enjoyed doing things that seemed out of the ordinary. The author choice of words creates a scene that allows readers to visualize what was going on. The main character provides us with the imagery of him sitting on the Legges front porch, “thinking about stealing a piece of their garden statutory…I thought that one would look good in my room…but they were too heavy, so I just moved them around the yard”(510-11).  This shows that the author’s style creates a way to appeal to readers allowing them to wonder as to why he would want to do such a thing? Although, “he believed he had a normal childhood” (511), his actions showed otherwise which displays why Gaitskill style proves effective for “the other place” that he escaped too.

Furthermore, as the main character starts to realize that as he begin to get older, things began to change. His feelings for the other place became tiresome and “he wanted to be somewhere that was neither the normal social world nor the other place” (514). Why didn’t he want to be in the other place? Why did it not excite him as much anymore? Could it be that he finally understood why he acted the way he did and now it was time to move on. Questions such as these, makes the reader wonder simply, why?

More so, the main character goes on to describe a scene that his life consisted of, which makes you wonder what he was really like. Given the chance and opportunity to do what intrigues him, he abruptly declines after much bickering back and forth. Noticing the hair of the woman whom he planned to shoot, he realized that “she’d been shot already, from the inside” (518). After this moment in his life, and as he began to get older, he understands why the lady was “wearing that awful wig because she was sick and undergoing chemo” (519). Although he was assuming based off a legitimate reason, what she was experiencing hits close to home for him, considering that his mother died of colon cancer. The way Gaitskill relates these two events, achieves the effect of what she wanted the reader to see and feel. Her style brings to life the meaning of what she wanted to convey.

In conclusion, Gaitskill’s overall approach to this particular piece of writing as far as her style allows the readers to get a deeper meaning of the story through what the main character expresses through his actions, even if you are not able to connect with “the other place” completely. Throughout the story Gaitskill’s style triggers all kinds of thoughts and contributes to the fact that the only way that the main character felt good was when he managed to escape to the other place, but he realized  as he grew older, he no longer needed to be in the other place to feel satisfaction.

Work Cited

Gaitskill, Mary. “The Other Place.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 510-19. Print.

What Route are you taking to Success?

In the video Declining by Degrees it shows and explains different lives of student’s at large universities. Although they all started on the same journey, different routes were taken in order to reach success. From the video I learned that encouraging students along the way can make a difference especially at a larger university. You also see that students don’t really take the work serious if they’re able to still get a passing grade without doing much work. Education is not just about regurgitating facts to past an exam, but we should redefine how we view education and understand the true meaning of what education is. I believe those who take up education as a major in order to be able to teach, should be in what they love and love what they do, because that makes all the difference too. If students were more intrigued by what was being taught, they may respond to challenge in a positive way instead of just doing enough to get by. Society and parents continuously tell us that “education is the key and you need a college education in order to get a good paying job”, but is this really true? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey whose net worth is 2.7 billion, and Richard Branson whose net worth is 4.2 billion never graduated from a higher learning institution. An exam result should not decide your fate. We should learn to value education and expand our horizons and visions. What route are you taking to success?

While at Florida Beach!

     It was a hot summer day, and the sun was shining bright. My uncle had asked my mom could I go to Florida beach with him and his family, she said sure she can. I was so excited and ready to go because I knew I would have so much fun. I was only thirteen and it was my first time going to the beach, but I didn’t know that I would be the one to get hurt, because of my disobedience.

     We were riding down the highway, which seemed like a long strip of walkway down the yellow brick road. Passing all the signs and the various restaurants, I was glad that we were almost there. After two more hours, we had arrived at the bizarre sight of Florida beach. Everyone stepped out the big, white van with a sigh of relief, and their faces showing with joy. I jumped up and ran straight for the beach water. The feel of seaweed, salt, and moving water brushed against my young, brown skin. I couldn’t contain my joy. My bright beautiful smile shined, and relief finally sat in.

     Later that day, after we had grabbed a bite to eat to satisfy our hunger, we went swimming with the dolphins. Not really dolphins, but the assimilation. As we were in the cool breezy water, laughter began to fill the air. Everyone was enjoying themselves, even me. I splashed, pushed people in the water, and even got to watch a movie by the pool side.

     By then, it was night time and time to rest up for the next day. All the adults was getting ready to go out and have fun while we was to be left with the older teenagers at the hotel. I had no problem with that, but I was the youngest out of the crew. Of course the older teens wanted to have fun too, so we had to tag alone with them. As the adults were on their way out the door, the teens was prepping themselves to get ready and leave too.

     After a while it was time to go off and explore Florida with the older ones. We came across a group of teenagers that was in the weight room and there was a huge white sign on the door with big red letters that read eighteen and older. The guys that were already in the weight room opened the door for us and they continued lifting weights. I knew deep down that I should’ve stayed at the hotel, and I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be in the weight room because I was only thirteen, and the sign read eighteen and older. I began to look around and right in the middle of the floor stood a treadmill, it really caught my attention.

     A few minutes later, there I was walking on the treadmill. Next thing I knew I was going at full speed and didn’t even know how to stop the treadmill. Out of nowhere I stopped while the treadmill was still going and found myself skidding back. My right arm was skinned, bruised, and bleeding badly. My cousins didn’t want to get in trouble, so they told me to tell my uncle that I fell on the stairs by the hotel.

     Early that morning my uncle asked what happened and when I told him, he knew immediately it was a lie. After much questioning, I finally told the truth, and everyone was in big trouble. All I could do was think about what I was going to tell my mama and how she would react. In the midst my uncle was fussing and upset because not only did I have to tell my mom what happened, he had to answer too.

     Later that night, pulling up to my driveway you could see the “I really apologize for what happened” look on my uncles face. He knew that my mother would be upset, but honestly it was my fault because I knew better. We walked in the house, and there my mom was standing with a cheerful smile on her face, until she seen my arm. She went on a rant for about five minutes, and then she finally calmed down. I explained to her that what happened was because of my disobedience.

     That night in bed I thought about all the fun I had at the beach, but when I looked down at the scar on my arm, it reminded me that obedience is better than sacrifice.



The Sorority Body Image Problem

In the excerpt “The Sorority Body-Image Problem” by Catherine Mitchell she discusses her problem with the sorority. She felt since only one out of the ten sororities she applied too, responded, she had to commit to that sorority. I don’t believe that she should’ve signed to pledge if she really didn’t want too. Just because she seemed persuaded too, she could’ve still said no. what I don’t understand is that they accepted her, yet started to discriminate against her because of her weight. No matter what her sorority sisters should’ve been there for her, being that they encouraged sisterhood. Sisters don’t treat each other bad, they may argue and fight sometimes, but the love is still there. This sorority seemed to be about looks and not really sisterhood. The authors’ central idea conveys that a sorority may not be all that it seems to be. They may act one way and do and say certain things to get you to pledge, but make sure it’s something you really want to do. One main point that stick out to me is that she addresses the fact that she signed her name and then cried. Some may wonder why she was crying. Some would say she started to cry because this was the only sorority to get back to her out of ten. I wonder why she was hesitant about signing, did she know the true intents of their hearts, yet wanted to be a part of a sorority, that she felt she had no choice but to sign?

A great weekend!

I chose to write on the start of my weekend because I really enjoyed going home and spending time with my family and friends. I didn’t really revise much, but I did rewrite certain parts to give it more detail so enjoy!

On Friday I debated whether or not I wanted to go home for the weekend. As I sat on my bed in the cool room weighing my options I continued to ponder on what it would be like to go home. Time finally passed and I decided to go home to hang out with family and friends. I called my mother and told her that I wouldn’t be coming home and she was a little upset, because I could hear the sadness in her voice. I just wanted it to be a surprise. Ten minutes later I was done packing my bags and off I went to Greensboro, North Carolina where the fun was to begin, but to Bojangles I went first. After a while I finally arrived at the bizarre sight of my home. Oh how lovely it was as the breeze brushed across my brown face. Upon entering the house I noticed that my mom was gone, so I dropped my bags off and went upstairs. When my mother finally got home she was still feeling down, but as I came down the stairs her face showed with glee and she went up in joy. Her spirit was high and she was so surprised to see me. I spent the rest of the night with my mom in which we like to call ladies night. Saturday came quickly and there we were searching for answers on what to do for today!