In the short story "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," by Richard Wright, depicts a boy who has the need to own a gun. In most cases you would think that someone wanting to own a gun is for protection, but that is not the case in this story. In the story, Dave, the main character, is trying to become a man, and in his opinion he needs to own a gun in order for him to be considered a man. When reading the story, we come to understand the respect he is looking for by looking at the primary male figure in his life. .
Dave asks his mother for a the money to buy a gun, and this act itself comes across as very immature and childlike. "He laid the catalog down and slipped his arm around her waist," and he began begging her to let him purchase the gun, which makes him look "like a child begging for candy at the store" (Wright 309). The manner in which he asks his mother to let him purchase a gun doesn't help him look more like the man he is trying to be. On the contrary, it makes him see more childlike, vulnerable and needy. .
Dave is trying to gain respect from the people in his life. People see Dave as a child and that makes him feel as if he's less of a person. His family's social class also makes it hard for him to get respect. He tries to gain respect from the other African Americans, but he can't seem to do better than the white characters in the story. Characters like Hawkins and Joe are from the business class, and more importantly, they're white. "Looking at Jim Hawkins' big white house, feeling the gun sagging in his pocket. Lawd, ef Ah had jus one mo bullet Ah'd taka shot at tha house. Ah'd like t scare ol man Hawkins jusa little.Jusa enough to let 'im know Dave Saunders is a man." Here we o see that Dave's only way of showing his power is through a gun due to the fact that the other adult male figures are more respected than him. He believes that he has no other way of getting respect since he comes from a working class background.