Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Culture, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Almos' a Man" by Richard Wright

"Almos' a Man" by Richard Wright (1940, 8 pages)


I am having a lot of fun reading the short stories in a 1947 collection of short stories my cousin Bonnie kindly sent me.   I was happy to see a story by Richard Wright (1908 to 1960-Mississippi, USA) included.   Out of seventy stories, it is the only one by a person of color included in the collection.   Wright is most famous for Native Son, then Black Boy followed in popularity among his works by Uncle Tom's Children and The Outsider.   His work is mostly about the lives of African Americans living in the American South and the great racial prejudice they experienced.   Of his work, in the long ago I have read  Native Son.   Wright is considered a very important writer.    


One of the things I have seen in the several works of fiction I have read about the colonial experience is that one of the very worse consequences of colonialism is that the colonized come to believe they are inferior to their masters.   This can and does stay inside the psyches of people for generations after political independence is achieved.    One side effect of this is that the men of once colonized countries often feel a need to behave in a very "macho" way to prove their manhood.   Sadly manhood is equated with a gun.   


I will keep my post short as I do hope others will one day read this story.   The lead character is a 17 year old African American man living in the American South.    He maybe a bit learning disabled as his mother keeps his wages for him as she feels he does not have the good sense to handle his own money.   There is one thing Dave wants more than anything else, something that will prove he is a man.   He wants a gun.   He asks his mother to give him the $2.00 it costs to buy a used gun.   She is at first very upset by this but she gives in to him.


Not to my great surprise, something terrible happens as a result of it.  OK it is terrible but it made me laugh and unless I am warped you might laugh also.   When his neighbors and his boss find out about what happened with the gun they all laughed also.   Everybody laughed but Dave who saw no humor in it at all.    I will leave the rest of the plot unspoiled.   This is a very good short story, it will make you think and unless you are a saint it will make you laugh.   


This brief story (it does use politically unacceptable language and dialect that might offend also) really gets deep into the consequences of racism.   


There is a good article on Wright here which also has links to some of his work.   


Please share with us your experience with Richard Wright.


Mel u

1 comment:

Parrish Lantern said...

this does sound amusing, thanks for another great introduction.