Richard Wright's, "The Man Who Was Almost a Man", is a fictitious short story about an uneducated black boy's quest to become a man. Growing up in the early 20th century was a very hard task for most black people. The lack of education was one of the hardest hills they had to overcome to make it in a world dominated by whites. The story centers upon one seventeen-year old boy who has very low self-esteem caused by his peers. He believes that owning a gun will gain him respect with others and thus make him a man.

The story's title, "The Man Who Was Almost a Man", holds many different meanings to how Dave must have felt back in those times. He was unable to interact with the white society and was outcast by his peers because of his age. He believed at this time in his life that being a man was more important than life itself. Buying a gun and learning to shoot was his solution to becoming a man. This was not the case though. The first time he fired the gun, "His hand was numb; he jammed it into his mouth, trying to warm it, trying to stop the pain. (Wright 720). He also shot Mr. Hawkin's mule, Jenny, which he was unable to cover up. Now everyone would know what he had done which would give his peers a bad impression of him. He would not gain their respect, nor would he be able to socialize with them. He would not be a man in their eyes or his own.

Most of the story focuses on Dave trying to buy a gun so he can become a man. The gun symbolizes the power Dave is trying to obtain. He will stop at nothing to obtain his manhood. After buying the gun, he then begins his next endeavor. Instead of coming straight home, he waits to make sure that his parents are in bed to insure no confrontation. Dave's symbolism with the gun is evident. He is almost a man. .

Dave's struggle with power and oppression was evident in his lack of judgement in his actions. His struggle with his self-identity was ruining his life.