Prompt #4, and this weekend’s reading

Posted in prompts at 11:21 am by Dominique

Hi all,

We’re picking up the pace this next week as we turn from reader-response to a discussion of Modernity and Postmodernism, as well as interpretive lenses known as “Deconstruction,” and “Post-Structuralism.” Your reading for the weekend includes a story by Edgar Allan, “The Spectacles” (which can be found on the course readings page), and the next section in Charles Bressler’s Literary Criticism (“Modernity/Postmodernism, Structuralism/Poststructuralism: Deconstruction” –pages indicated on syllabus). “The Spectacles” is the last short story we’ll read before turning to Heart of Darkness for the next four weeks; please be sure that you have purchased the specific edition of that book listed on the syllabus.

Our main bloggers for this week are Luis Hernandez and Marissa Gonta. Their task, to be completed and posted by Monday at midnight, is as follows:

Using the reader-oriented model of criticism we tested out in class on Thursday, apply that method to Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” in order to arrive at an analysis–of 500-550 words–of the story.  Your analysis should describe several horizons of expectations and show how they change the text from beginning to end. Consider, as you do this, the qualities of the narratee (as we did on Tuesday with “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”). Based on certain gaps in information or narration, or what types of explanations are provided, describe the narratee and how that narratee is being led to respond to the story (or, to use Rosenbatt’s word, to “transact” with it). Finally, as we did last class, explain the overall meaning you come to as a result of this reader-oriented approach, particularly how that meaning is supported by or in conversation with the story’s title.

Commentators on this post, who should respond by Wednesday at midnight with comments of 150-200 words, should consider to what extent they are convinced by the type of analysis a reader-oriented approach to Wright’s story yields. Especially considering Wright’s use of dialect and the central “paradox” this story reveals, would it be useful to bring a New Critical approach to it? Why or why not? Are there still other things you think you should consider when analyzing Wright’s story that neither New Criticism (Formalism) nor reader-oriented criticism seem to be focused on?

If you have empty spaces on your reader-response handout from this week, please ask me about any terminology that needs clarification at the start of class on Tuesday. We will also begin next class by finally getting to the question about your process of arriving at an interpretation within your small groups (on the back of the handout); after lingering with the reader-oriented critics for fifteen minutes or so, we’ll turn to the concepts of modernity and postmodernism during the second half of Tuesday’s class. Again, please make sure you’ve read Bressler’s chapter and Poe’s story beforehand!

Have a wonderful weekend!


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  1.    marissae17 said,

    September 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    In the short story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, there are several horizons of expectation that lead us to the conclusion of Dave running away from his family. The first horizon of expectation that I noticed was when Mr. Joe offered to sell Dave the gun for $2. I didn’t think that Mr. Joe would sell Dave the gun because he said, “You ain’t nothing but a boy. You don’t need a gun.” Even after he said that if Dave came back with the money he would give him the gun, but he did. The second horizon of expectation that I saw was when Dave was begging his mother to give him money so he could buy the gun. He knew that it was only $2 and his pay for the week would cover the cost, however, he just had to get his mother to give him the gun. Dave’s mother told him that she needed to save the money so she could buy him clothes for the summer and if he did buy the gun that he would get in trouble and his father would have a fit. Through these reactions from the mother I was sure that he was not going to get the gun, but sure enough, she said yes. The third one that I saw was when Dave took Jenny and the gun into the field to shoot it. By the way that Dave had kept the gun from his parents and took Jenny out to the field so early in the morning; I had a feeling that something was going to happen. The horizons of expectation change from the beginning of the story to the end by means of in the beginning of the story, I did not know what was going to happen, whether Mr. Joe was going to sell Dave the gun or whether his mother would let him buy the gun. Towards the end of the story, I had a feeling that I knew what was going to happen. The way Wright had written the details of Dave getting up early to plow the back of the field and how the crowd comes to see Jenny, one man says “looks like a bullet hole to me”, I instantly knew that Dave was going to get caught.
    Wright never states a definite narratee in the story.

    I feel that the narratee is being led to respond to this story in a couple different ways. During the beginning of the story I responded in a way where I was happy for Dave that he mom allowed him to buy the gun and he was going to be the man he always wanted to be. I thought that if he was smart enough to convince his mother for his allowance, then he was smart enough to take proper care of the gun. However, toward the end of the story, I feel sorry for him. I believe that if he would have went back to his parents or Mr. Hawkins and told them that Jenny was hurt; they might have been able to save her and he may have been able to “become a man” because his parents would have thought that it was a brave thing to do to come clean with what happened with Jenny and Dave not bringing the gun back to his parents. We later find out that he gets caught up in a lie and the only way that he feels he can now become a man is if he runs away with his gun. I think that the story is supported by its title in the sense that if he had bought the gun and brought it straight home to his mother, like he was supposed to, he would have shown his parents that he was mature enough to be a man. However, he decided to take the other road in which he acted like a child by hiding the gun from his parents, not owning up to shooting Jenny and running away from the consequences.

  2.    victoriane said,

    September 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Reading the story, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright thorough a reader-oriented lens made it easier for me analyze the story. I was able to read through a transactional experience, I fully engaged into the reading and understood line by line what was occurring. For example, as I read the story I picked up a certain ascent and dialect when conversations went on between the characters. This helped me fully engage and pick up important information as I read each line. I was able to use efferent reading in which I read for information that would lead me to the main idea. I made mental notes of the conversations between Dave, his mom, and Joe concerning the gun. As I reached the end of the story I put all the pieces together in order to reach the central paradox. I was also able to dive into the reading and feel what was being described.
    I don’t think bringing in a New Critical approach would be as helpful as a reader-oriented approach. The dialect used in the story would make it difficult to use denotation and connotation. One thing that would help is having an organic unity because both lenses can agree that every text can analyze by what is in the text.

  3.    amark916 said,

    September 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    As I read “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, I quickly realized that this text was written for the reader. I actually read it aloud so that I was able to add the dialect to completely understand the feel of the text, which enabled me to encounter a transactional experience. My goal was to make sense of the text; there were key moments that just didn’t make sense. For example, I could not understand why Dave’s mother gave him the two dollars to buy the gun being that he was still a child. But as I continued reading, I realized that Dave having the gun creates a horizon of expectation which basically plants the seed that something bad is going to happen. The central paradox of the story is that Dave wanted to be a man before his time. But yet he did the opposite of what a man would do, he ran away to avoid paying his debt and he also lied about what really happened to Jenny. He didn’t take ownership of anything. Therefore, we are able to comprehend the title of the story. I do not believe a new critical approach works for this story simply because there are too many ambiguities in the text.

  4.    Dominique said,

    September 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Posted on behalf of this week’s second main blogger, Luis Hernandez:

    In class we discuss many terms but in other words we explain the meaning of modernism and post modernism. This story is about a kid that is seventeen who has an eager to hold a gun.. This story also explains why he wants to do with the gun which is to protect the father and family. He accidentaly shot the mule where he worked at in the farm and wasn’t able to pay the farmer which was two dollars a month for the damage he caused. Here we see the genre is adulthood the kid doesn’t want to be a kid anymore but an adult. It’s a transition that he is making on his own.
    I also recall that dave wants to be a protective son towards his family and himself. In doing so, he begs his mother to hand him over two dollars of his off the books earned money. His mother acts reluctant at first because she plans to use his money for school wardrobe and supplies for the coming winter. Eventually she is convinced by his pleas to purchase the two dollar worth gun that Ol’ Joe from the store suggested to him. Ol’ Joe had a gun which he didin’t use and was looking to sell. Dave gets the gun from Ol’ Joe and runs to the field where he admires and playfully pretends to aim and shoot phantom enemies.
    Dave is a person with many personalities that we see. He tries to act like an adult and also is very protective with his siblings. He tries to play a role as a person with authority. Which means that only people that hold guns or any kind of weapon shows that they have authority over the situation. Or a person that is mature enough to have a possession of a weapon is considered an adult. To conclude the concept of post-modernism, the story is creating a narrative of an adult genre with a sub-urban country style. We see the text how is written in such a way that it provides a visual country mindset to the reader. The title of the story has plenty of information that we acknowledged. For example, Dave in a way tried to become a man by having a gun but little did he realize that acquiring a gun doesn’t make him a man with responsibilities. We also can prove that the title has a lot to do with the story by he making adult decisions. He worked in a farm, he also had the intention to protect his family with the gun that he obtained. Dave also proved the quote “I think therefor I Am” by he trying to leave his childhood to adulthood in matter of a day.

  5.    awilliams108 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 12:00 am

    In this story, the writer was foreshowing the story. I can read the first two paragraphs and say that Dave the character in this story was going to incite a force; either he was going to get in trouble or looking for death. In this story it is basically Relativism, because everyone is going to have similar meaning.
    In this story Dave feels like he is an adult, because he works and earns his own money, also because he puts in the days of work like any ordinary others grown adults. Dave wants to buy this $2 gun because his fellow workers at work treat him like a child. The store manager Mr. Joe ask Dave what kind of gun he want and he shows Dave a ole pistol that he wants to sell. Mr. Joe gave Dave a catalogue of guns where Dave decided to take it to dinner at his parents’ house. Dave was convicting his mother to give him money to buy the gun. She looked at him and tells him that he is a fool. Dave figure if his mother and father aren’t going to request him to buy the gun, Dave decided to make two ends meet and went to the store to buy the gun. In this story to me basically this is not a respectable, educated story. We have a Mr. Joe who is giving a teen a gun, plus his mothers was deciding whether she should give him the money for the gun. Why would a family or store manager encourage a teen to get a gun, it doesn’t make any scene. To me also this was a man versus society, where Dave felt intimidated by his co-workers because they think he is a kid, and not a grown man, so Dave had to prove a point to everyone that he needed to a gun to me him look big. The dialect in this story, I love it. Reading this story I can totally understand every single word that was written. Actually some of this dialect I use in my daily life. Looking and reading the text “The man who was almost a man”, emphasizes that we was readers are man and that in this story, we can put ourselves in Dave shoes as a young man, were was always wanted something badly, then we eventually get then we get in trouble with that thing, example a sling shot.

  6.    emina said,

    September 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Horizons of expectations are the turning points of a story. In “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, my horizons of expectations kept changing as I was reading throughout the story. My first horizon of expectation, as Marissa also mentioned, was the price of the gun being only 2 dollars. Dave being such a young boy, I didn’t assume that this was a real gun, or that Mr.Joe would of sold the gun to Dave. As I kept reading, from context clues I figured that this time period, money had much more value then it does today. When Dave was wondering on how to get the money, I didn’t think that he would ask his mom for the money. Especially when she gave it to him, I thought that was another horizon of expectation. A mother giving her young son money to buy a gun definitely surprises the reader. It evokes a reaction from the reader. This is a great sign of reader-response criticism, by the reader being an important part in the reading process.
    At first, the reader is supposed to feel some sort of sympathy towards Dave. How he wants to protect his family, as Luis mentions in his response. A young boy wanting to be “the man” of the house, shows great character, almost makes the reader think that he is a man. As you keep reading, his actions with the guy are very irresponsible and then the reader begins to think that he is still a boy. Another horizon of expectation would be Dave shooting Jenny. He did not even know how to hold the gun or shoot it, but yet he wanted to. That is a classic sign of something a child would do. An action comes with consequences which Dave was not ready to admit too.

  7.    jenn691 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    With Reading ” The Man Who Was Almost A Man” by Wright, i felt it was very effective to read as a reader-responce critic, and not just because I personally feel it is the analytical approach that I feel most accustomed to. When reading this story, thye main horizon of expectation for me was when Jenny got hurt when Dave shot the gun for the first time. At this point I did feel bad for him because here is a young boy who desires most to become a man and not be “nothin’ but a boy” like Joe and his parents stated anymore. At this horizon of expectation, it creates a transactional experience because this does elicit thoughts and emootions for the character Dave at this time, and mostly Jenny. At this point, everyone became furious with Dave and his father could not believe that his mother let him get the gun from Joe for $2 which now did not seem worth it anymore since Dave had to pay Mr. Hawkins $50 for Jenny. I read this text efferently in the facxt that I knew something big was going to happen next as he was laying in bed that night and was not over what had happened that day and not satisfied with not becoming a full man that he was determined to be. I read anticipating more information on what was about to come and what the conclusion or the next main event would be; which was him running away with the gun as he hopped on top of the train after shooting the gun for the second time in the open field. Dave felt as if he needed to run away because he needed and was determined to find a place where he can eventually become the man he wants to be where he will not be considered just a boy. With the language and dialouge in this text, I do not believe the New Critical Approach would be useful because it would be extremely difficult to identify the denotation and connotation of each word, especially in its dialect and is merely impossible to avoid an affective fallacy. The only thing I can see being useful in the New critical approach is reference to this story is that there should be an organic unity, in which there should be, and mostly in every story, that one thing or at least one thing or idea that is holding a text together.

  8.    beezy said,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    From the very beginning, the story tells you a great deal just based on the title alone. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” can be absorbed very simply through the reader-response lens. As others have stated, it is a very simple read, one which when read aloud can just give you a very genuine feel for what’s going on in the story. Dave, not quite a boy, not yet a man, wishes to be a man, and no longer have to be viewed as a youngster amongst his co-workers and peers, who most likely don’t take him very seriously. He believes the only way for him to become a man is purchasing a gun from local shop-keep, Joe. This already depicts an immaturity about him, and having to beg his mother for the $2 doesn’t help his case all that much. A point of horizon clearly observed is when his mother gives him the money and allows him to purchase said firearm from Joe. Everything goes ‘sour’ so to speak from this point. Dave then accidentally shoots Jenny, leaving her to die alone rather than owning up to his actions, like a real man would do, and going to get help and possibly save Jenny’s life. He then runs away instead of facing the consequences for his actions. Not very man-like if you ask me. I agree with Marissa that there are several horizons of expectation in this story and thought she did a really good job identifying them. I also agree with Jenn when referring to organic unity, which in my opinion would obviously be the gun.

  9.    beezy said,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    -Enes Mrkulic**

  10.    jruiz104 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    In the story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright was about a boy named Dave trying to become a man. Dave wanted to buy a gun from Joe but needed two dollars for it. Dave went to his mother and begs her to give him two dollars to buy a gun. Before that, Dave had to wait until his father finish eating and left the house. I concluded that Dave was afraid and had fear over his father. The first horizon of expectation is when the mother gave in after listening to Dave over and over. She agrees to give him two dollars if and only if he promises to return back home and give the gun to her. Of course I thought that was not going to happen. Once he brought the gun home at midnight, he felt a sense of power. Again he had been afraid of firing the gun because he thought his father would have heard it. The second horizon of expectation I thought was the mother not staying up until Dave got home that day. Therefore, Dave woke up early and went to plow the field with Jenny over at Jim Hawkins plantation. In the quote “Ah am afraid. The gun felt loose in his fingers; he waved it wildly for a moment. Bloom!” I thought is reminded him of his father. In my opinion, Dave wanted to be rid of the fear he had toward his father and prove that he was a man. It turn out that Jenny is dead and everyone knows he shot the mule. Dave becomes a man who was almost a man and run away from home. I agree with Marissae statement that he didn’t stand up to shooting Jenny and facing his consequences. If he had face his consequences maybe I thought he was one step in becoming a man.

  11.    khaff88 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    After reading “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” I could review the story easily using the readers-response technique. The dialect of the story helps picture Dave’s life and where he grows up. It was easy to depict the horizon of expectation and all other aspects of readers response. Wright puts the main idea right in the title of the poem, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” just by that title we can already assume that this is about a boy who may struggle with his manhood. We reach the horizon of the story when Dave is now dealing with a “manly” situation but is torn by his youth to act in an appropriate way and help Jenny. I don’t think I would be able to use the New Criticism approach because there would be too much to analyze. Being that this is a lengthy short story, breaking down each line for connotation and denotation would be exhausting and maybe give multiple criticisms.

  12.    GordonWTam said,

    September 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I am convinced applying reader-oriented criticism to Richard Wright’s story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, is a smart one. Aspects such as worrying about who the author is hoping the narratee is, helpful. I believe that in this case, it is an ideal reader, since Wright uses so much slang and southern drawl. Using new criticism, it would be much harder to decipher anything from these words without thinking about the historical context of when and who it was written by. Analyzing its structure and utilizing your own feelings is a much better way to translate this text, in my opinion. Conversely, looking long and hard at the many symbols the author gives in this story would be the forte of a new critic. Symbols such as the gun (becoming a man through power) give more meaning to the paradox of this story. The fact that Dave wants to become a man so badly he does so many unmanly things while looking for a shortcut gain more of a unified meaning if you choose to use new criticism.

  13.    Christian Zapata said,

    September 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    As I read Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, I couldn’t help just as others have written before me to read aloud the text with dialects. This allowed me to also have fun with this story which made it easier to read. A brief summary of the story is there’s a small boy named Dave who throughout the beginning of the text all he can talk about is buying a gun. After talking to the owner of a store, he finds out he can buy a gun for only two dollars. After begging his mother he finally buys the gun, however he backed out of the deal made with his mom and didn’t bring the gun home. Dave then goes to work early the next day taking his bosses mule out deep in the fields so he could fire his weapon. Carelessly shooting a round, he notices that the mule was shot and shortly after it had died. When confronted with his parents, his boss, and the whole town he lied at first but couldn’t keep it up and told the truth. Being afraid of punishment, he fled from the town and that ended the story. My favorite horizon of expectation was definitely when Dave purchased the gun, not knowing what could happen next with all the possibilities.

  14.    nadiab said,

    September 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    “The Man Who was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright, is a short story about a young boy named Dave. Dave believes that by purchasing a gun, he will become a man. In Dave’s eyes, a man with a gun has certain attributes such as authority. Once he purchases the gun. Dave believes that he will automatically obtain manly traits. However, as the story continues, Dave must deal with the consequences of having a gun. But instead of accepting his faults like a man, he displays childish behavior by running away. The story ends, and Dave never became a man.

    Wright’s story is useful in the reader –oriented approach. I believe that this story involves a transactional experience. The reader is in control in the interpretation for the text. Wright’s story may have a variety of meanings based on who the reader is. The title alone also helped in my interpretation of the text. The title suggests that this story is about a person who had the chance of being a man but never became a man. This story also engages in aesthetic reading. I noticed the type of dialect being used in Wright’s story. I had to read it aloud to experience the dialect which helped to understand the setting Dave lived in. This story also has many horizons of expectations. When Dave’s mother gives him the money to purchase the gun, he runs off eagerly while his mother is calling for him in the background. He ignores her in his excitement of buying a gun. I assumed that something would go wrong because of his issues in the first paragraph. Dave believes that a gun will make the other boys respect him and treat him like a man. Using the new critical approach to this text will not be useful. Analyzing this text will be difficult because of the length of the story and dialect being used in the dialogue. You would need to know the setting of the story as well.

  15.    mary03 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I found the reader response techniques to be very helpful .In the story “The man who was alomost a man” , Its about a boy name dave who wanted to be a man . But his actions showed the reader that he wasnt ready to be a man quite yet . The story goes well with the title. At first like one of my fellow classmates had said I didnt get why would his mother would say yes about the gun .But that is were the author brings forth the horizon of expectations , giving us hints that something bad might happen. Other hints and horizon of expectations was when dave was practitng or shooting the firearm , that was also a warning that something bad might happen. With this story i found it more effective to use the reader response , because i was able to encounter the transactional experience in how dave wanted to be a man and protect his family , when we are young we want to be older without seeing the consequences when we make adult decisions and do adult actions. A child should stay in a childs place . I also found useful to read as a efferent reader, i was able to gather the information to kind of for see what is going to happen next in the story . However i found it better to read as a “reader response” instead of the” New Criticism “. Because I would have interpreted the story and ending differently .

  16.    brianfinnerty91 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    In Richard Wright’s short story, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”, the main character Dave is on a downward spiral. This downward spiral is due to Dave’s carelessness after he buys a gun which he doesn’t know how to use. By taking a reader-oriented approach I was easily able to determine the main meaning behind the title of Wright’s story. The meaning which tells of a boy who was almost a man at age but because of his boyish like actions he was never looked at as a true man. As a new critic we are taught to read a particular piece of literature more than once. By reading the title more than once it helped me determine the central paradox of Wright’s story easier. Just by reading the first paragraph I was able to see the downward spiral that Dave was about to go in when he encountered the boys. These boys got to him and he wanted revenge. As a new critic I was able to see why Dave wanted to buy the gun. He wanted respect and because of this need for respect he made carless actions which led him to come up short in becoming a man. I agree with Marissa’s reasoning in her prompt about how “the narratee is being led to respond to this story in a couple different ways”. In the beginning of the story we see a mature Dave who wants to handle his problems on his own but as the story progresses we see the carelessness and boyish like actions in Dave.
    -Brian Finnerty

  17.    joshuak314 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I believe a reader-oriented approach was very effective when reading “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”. It helped me really delve into the story and experience the story and its setting. Being completely emotionally involved and not looking at the text only in a technical aspect helped me understand and sympathize with the main character Dave. A new critical approach to this text would be difficult and it would not yield much information. This text was meant to be taken as is and the words used to tell a singular story and having no connotative meaning behind them. One thing which should be considered that New Criticism or the Reader-Oriented approach does not address is the time period and location in which this story takes place. I believe it is important for us to know the cultural norms during this time period in this specific area. That would help us understand this story better.

  18.    terrylghong said,

    September 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I don’t think it is useful to bring a New Critical approach to this story because we are not just focusing on the words (dialect) and structure but mostly the character Dave and the things he has done in the story. However, reader-oriented approach will help us understand this better. When I was reading this story, I pictured it as a movie. I could tell Dave would try everything to get a gun. Base on my own experience, I did somehow predicted the ending which is Dave going to shoot something by accident.

    In order to understand this story better, we need to know Dave’s family background and the history at that time. Why does a boy think he needs a gun to become a man? Is it because he doesn’t feel safe without a weapon? It is hard for me to relate to it.

  19.    kocampo100 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    With the reader-oriented approach I actually thought it was easier to get the horizons of the expectation for the story. I agree with Marissa’s conclusions as to what the horizons were. Similar to ” A good man is hard to find”, the style of writing and the small hints throughout the story helped me understand in more depth what the outcome of the story would be. Another horizon for me would be Dave actually getting caught. When everybody found out that Dave shot Jenny, i had made an assumption that he was set up, as in he did get a deal for a gun for 2 dollars however he really was going to pay it back through working for years. That to me was a turning point in the story, it was an important aspect for my understanding further of the title. So in turn, him running away from his problems and his responsibilities proved the title to be true.

  20.    Terry said,

    September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I think taking a reader-oriented approach in analyzing Richard Wright’s story, ‘The Man Who Was Almost a Man’ worked nicely. Unlike New Criticism, the reader-response approach allowed me to interject some of my own outside knowledge to interpret this story. Some notable horizons of expectation include when Dave’s mother gave him the money to purchase the gun and when Dave was practicing shooting in the field.
    There’s a central tension between boyhood and manhood written into this text. To Dave, the gun doesn’t just represent being ‘all grown up’ but it is a way for him to earn the respect he so desperately craves. Another issue within the story is racism. Dave, being an African-American boy in the rural South, is repressed by the usually wealthier White-Americans. David says ‘Could kill a man with a gun like this, Kill anybody, black or white.’ When this is taken into account, the gun can also represent his equality with the Whites.
    In my opinion, New Criticism would be useful but critics would have a harder time analyzing this story, especially with all the vernacular used. Marissa did a good job picking out different horizons of expectation in the piece. Also, I agree with her on how Dave’s choices proved how immature he still was. True maturity and respect comes from within.

  21.    rasuli said,

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright was a very reader oriented story. I actually read the whole story with the accent, which helped me enjoy it. The type of narratee for this story is probably an Ideal reader because as we’re reading, even though this story is written in a completely different accent from that which we speak, we still manage to understand the terminology and structure of the text. I engaged with this text through aesthetic reading, I felt like I was in Dave’s shoes, and that I was experiencing everything that he was. One horizon of expectation I came across in this story was when Dave was badgering his mother about buying the gun and finally she agrees to let him buy it as long as he gives it to her. I didn’t think that Dave’s persistence would really make his mother give in and actually agree to let her son buy a gun. Overall this story helps the reader discover the central paradox by putting together specific codes that allow the meaning to occur. I don’t using the New Critical approach would be as helpful as a reader-oriented approach because the use of the dialect is essential to the understanding of the story as a whole.

  22.    emendoza said,

    September 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I believe that using a New Critical approach to this story would strip so much “essence” out of it, especially out of the central character, Dave. Through a New Critical lens, all I could really say about this short story is simply how Dave wanted a gun, convinced his mother to give him the means to obtain a gun, neglected to obey his parents’ requests, shoots a mule and fails to own up to it, then ultimately flees town via a passing train at the end of the story.

    Through the reader-oriented approach, a reader becomes more emotionally susceptible towards Dave. For example, as I read the part about Dave convincing his mother to give him the money for the gun (horizon of expectation), I was really hoping she wouldn’t do so. To me, Wright’s introduction of Dave’s character showed and eager, immature young lad, seeking power without control. Later on in the story, as Dave is out in the fields practicing his shot (horizon of expectation), I already anticipated the sequence of events to take a turn for the worse, given my prior expectations of this childish boy. Reading through this lens, a reader can notice (and actually comment on) other things most New Critics would fail to bring forth, such as Wright’s set up of the story. While New Critics might focus on Wright’s abundance of dialogue in the story, I focused more on the form of this story, namely the absence of a detailed background (specifically through the reader-oriented approach). I found it pretty clever of Wright to sort of trap his readers by failing to provide a detailed setting; with the lack of background, Wright forces his readers to focus solely on the characters’ words and actions, and directs our attention towards Dave and the gun. Through any lens, even some other critical lens we’ve not yet discussed in class (psychoanalytic, marxism, etc) readers are inevitably drawn to pay attention to the events circulating Dave and the gun. It is only until one forces himself to focus on other aspects (such as the lack of background setting) that one breaks free of Wright’s hold, no matter which lens he uses (I’ve tried).
    I believe Wright’s motives behind this strategy was to create the metaphor for maturity. If the lack of background signifies one’s uncertainty and inability to see what’s yet to come in his life, and the gun signifies a solid, concrete, tangible thing–relative to “the moment,” or the present day, then I believe Dave is a symbol for us humans aimlessly seeking the better things to come in the future while forsaking what we have in front of us now (Dave’s family), and selfishly denying our mistakes and issues for the comfort of ourselves (shooting Jenny, running away).


  23.    seng101 said,

    September 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    The reader oriented criticism is probably the best form of criticism to use in the story “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright. I believe that the author is addressing the ideal reader in the story. Much of the language of the story is written in a relaxed manner that it makes what is going in the story easier to understand. While reading this relaxed tone in the story I felt that I could experience the text through aesthetic reading. I can all relate to Dave when he ask his money for money for the gun. I may not all have used money we get from our mom for weapons but I definitely have been in that situation. I experienced this text through aesthetic reading from the sounds that were intentionally written by the author. This story along with the title focus around the literary experience in that scene in which Dave leaves his hometown he believes he’s doing the manly thing. The reader sees that he owns up to killing the mule, but the reader also sees Dave as not becoming a real man because he avoids making amends. This stops the reader and you think Dave really isn’t a man. He didn’t go through with his punishment.

  24.    steveocarpio said,

    September 22, 2011 at 12:22 am

    The way the author wrote this made it really easy for me to understand, i did remind me of a good man is hard to find because like in that story if you read this story line by line you will understand everything, but those little elements that the author wants you to get is what is hidden in the story.Its hard to use new critical method hear because you understand everything fluent, the story brings up many thoughts as to what is a man, or the manly thing to do, i feel when reading this that many thought what was suppose to happen. There are many intense parts or rising horizons in the story, the first that comes up is when the mother is allowing the purchase of a gun, any common sensed person would second that argument that she gave in to. The other would be the shooting of Jenny and Dave not owning up to his actions, leaving he to die instead of maybe checking if there was a chance of second life. I agree with Marisa with all of the raising horizons.

  25.    cass88163 said,

    September 22, 2011 at 1:27 am

    In “The Man who was almost a Man”; I believe that it engages in aesthetic reading. This means that the readers experiences the text. The use of dialect in this story helps the reader to put himself or herself there; which is known as literacy experience. It gives the reader a opportunity to transact with the text. As i continued to read I felt as though it shifted to the reader engaging in efferent reading; meaning that specific information is needed to carry on with the text. As I got to the first horizon expectation;which was when Dave’s mother gave him two dollars to purchase the gun; this shift occurred, because i became interested in gaining newly information that would lead to the next horizon expectation, which i believed was when Dave’s mother did not wait for him to get home. It led me to expect that something bad was going to occur. As far as the title goes; THE MAN WHO WAS ALMOST A MAN; Dave felt a sense of power when obtaining the gun, he though that owning this gun will make him a man, when in all actuality he is un-educated and immature and did not even know how to operate the gun, leading him to shoot the mule.

  26.    acervinaro90 said,

    September 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    When I was reading the story the man who almost a man I was on edge the whole entire time. For me there were many horizons of expectations. I think that allowing us to use the reader orienteted aproach really helped me because I got to input my own personal opinion which helped me through the whole story. For me the main turning point of the story was when Davids mom gave him the money for the gun. During my reading of the piece when it came to that point I thought to myself there is no way that his mom is going to give him that money. It hit me really quick when his mom did. For me that was the turning point. I understood that his mom trusted him to bring home the gun, but him being just a boy I was shocked by the decision that his mom made. I also agree with marisa just to see the choices that Dave made as soon as he got the gun I quickly understood that I was correct he was still very immature. Dave wanted respect And he wanted to be seen as grown, but he himself destroyed that idea.

  27.    acervinaro90 said,

    September 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Just wanted to correct my spelling of my classmates name:marissae

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