Social Comment on Race by William Faulkner and Richard Wright Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1065 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Race in Faulkner & Wright

Ahma beg her t gimme some money. Ahm ol ernough to hava gun. Ahm seventeen. Almost a man." Dave's longing for a gun pervades Richard Wright's short story "The Man Who was Almost a Man." An intense and tense coming-of-age story, "The Man Who was Almost a Man" employs rich symbolism, most notably the emblem of a gun as a representation of the phallic power of manhood as well as the social power manhood entails. As a black man living in the South, Dave grew up bereft of voice, power, and wealth. Knowing oppression and racism first-hand, Dave sees firearms as the only visible vehicle with which he can assert himself as an individual, as an adult, and as a viable member of society. Wright uses the gun to illustrate sexual tension in a nineteen-year-old boy as well as to underscore the severity of social inequality. William Faulkner also demonstrates sensitivity to issues of class, race, and sexuality in his short story "That Evening Sun Go Down." He allows his protagonist Quentin Compson to reveal the hardships of being both black and female in the South. Nancy suffers, like Dave in "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," from racial prejudice and also from gender-based oppression and violence. Although Faulkner wrote as a white man in the South, his story reveals chilling social and economic realities just as Wright's does.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Social Comment on Race by William Faulkner and Richard Wright Assignment

Nancy has internalized a sense of social inferiority and powerlessness. For instance, she states, "I ain't nothing but a nigger." Nancy goes so far as to assert that she is "hell-born." Nancy's social status had been diminished both because of her skin and because of her gender. Her intense fear of Jubah permeates the short story and is its primary source of tension. In Wright's story, on the other hand, tension is created not by fear but by desire. Dave's desire to be a man becomes overwhelming and overpowering and he eventually leaves his family to fulfill his budding dreams of manhood. Nancy seems more mature than Dave. She is not on a quest to assert herself but only to be safe and to avoid confrontation with her husband. Moreover, neither Nancy nor Quentin, unlike Dave, possesses any physical means or emotional impetus to assert themselves. They do not try to upset the status quo even though they Dave, Nancy, and Quentin are young. Dave uses his gun to try and change his standing in the community, to gain respect. In "That Evening Sun Goes Down," Judah possesses the power to kill and oppress and is the primary antagonist in the story.

Both Wright and Faulkner imply that machismo serves a destructive purpose in society. In Faulkner's story, however, the direct consequences of sexism are more apparent because Nancy, an African-American servant girl, is a key character in the story. Her husband Jubah remains faceless, and serves more as a symbol of evil than an actual character. Fear of Jubah becomes not only Nancy's fear but young Quentin's too. Quentin's love of Nancy brings out his subsequent awareness of male-female relations as well as white-black relations in Southern culture.

Jubah's African-American heritage is, however, relevant to the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Social Comment on Race by William Faulkner and Richard Wright."  Essaytown.com.  August 1, 2006.  Accessed September 21, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/social-comment-race-william-faulkner/74285.