IWU The Man Who was Almost a Man discussion

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Indiana Wesleyan University


Subject: 3.4 The Individual and the Community



For this discussion, you will explore how setting, diction, metaphors, similes, symbols, and characterization are used by Richard Wright to communicate truths about the nature of manhood.
Upon successful completion of this assignment you will be able to:
  • Identify examples of setting, diction, metaphors, similes, and symbols.
  • Explain how various literary devices may be used to communicate truths about the struggle of a boy to become a man in the context of his community.
  • Evaluate literary discoveries about human nature using your own experience.



Read the Biographical Headnote on Richard Wright (pp. 205-208).https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Wright-American-writer
Read Richard Wright's "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" (pp. 211-220) in The Pearson Custom Library of American Literature.http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr2/wright.htm
Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to the following:
  1. How does Dave define manhood? What does he think he needs to do in order to become a man?
  2. In your opinion, is Dave more of a man or a boy at the beginning of the story? What criteria do you use to form this opinion?
  3. What you think the gun symbolizes in this story? Explain your answer.
  4. When Dave climbs onto the train at the end of the story, is this evidence of his manhood or of his boyhood? Explain your answer.
  5. Do you think Mr. Hawkins’ proposal for repayment of the mule is fair? Does he seem to be treating Dave as a man or as a boy? Explain your answer.
  6. Identify as example of irony in the story and explain how is used to achieve a message in this story.
  7. In your opinion, has Dave changed at the end of the story? If so, how has he changed, and is it a positive or negative change? If not, then what does Dave symbolize, based on his character traits?
  8. What do you think the message of Wright’s story is? Do you agree or disagree with the message? Explain your answer with specific reference to the text.

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LITERARY GLOSSARY 3.4 Setting: Typically, setting focuses on the time or place in which the actions of the plot occur. Setting may also refer to an intellectual context of some kind, such as a theological setting, a political setting, or some other kind of cultural setting. Diction: Diction refers to an author’s careful selection of one word over another to convey meaning. Often, word choice takes advantage of the connotation of words. For example, if an author wanted to describe the dwelling place of a character, she could convey a very different meanings through her diction if she used “shack” versus “mansion.” Connotation: Connotation refers to the many associations, suggestions, or judgments attached to a word that go beyond the literal dictionary definition of that word. For example, “trim,” “thin,” and “skinny” all have the same basic literal meaning or dictionary definition. However, “trim” usually carries positive associations, “thin” neutral associations, and “skinny” negative associations. Implied Metaphor: A comparison of two seemingly unlike things which neither uses a connective nor the verb to be. The following would be a version of the “love is a rose” metaphor, but in implied metaphor form because the verb to be is no longer present: “love’s petals have a sweet scent, but love’s thorns are painful.” Simile: A comparison of two seemingly unlike things using some connective word, such as like, as, than, or a verb (like resembles). Symbol: A visible object or action that functions on a literal level within the text, but which also suggests some further meaning in addition to itself. One of the most common examples is the heart. As a symbol, the heart is a literal physical object (a muscle that pumps blood), but it also very often has the additional symbolic meaning of “love.” Character: A person, animal, or anthropomorphic (human-like) thing who performs the actions of the story. Methods of Characterization: Authors use six basic methods to characterize. (Be careful not to equate the narrator with the author. Always think of the speaker/narrator in a text as a fictional character created by the author who does not necessarily share the same history or traits as the author.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. The thoughts of that character The words of that character The acts of that character The appearance of a character The effect of a character on other characters The thoughts of other characters about that character The words or thoughts of other characters about that character The words of the narrator about that character
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Explanation & Answer


{Last name} 1
Student’s Bane
Instructor’s Name
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The Man Who was Almost a Man
Question 1

Dave defines manhood as having power and being able to avoid being controlled by
others. He believes that having a pistol will make him a man, and gets himself one from Joe's

Question 2

At the beginning of the story, Dave is more of a boy, as evidenced by his thoughts. He
thinks that having a gun turns a boy into a man. The way he...

Just the thing I needed, saved me a lot of time.


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