The Sky Is Gray And Almos' A Man, Theme Comparison

878 words - 4 pages

In "The Sky Is Gray" by Ernest J. Gaines and "Almos' A Man" by Richard Wright, the two main characters display different levels of maturity. In "The Sky Is Gray" Gaines shows how poverty has caused James's maturity to grow, while in "Almos' A Man" Wright shows how Dave tries to prove his maturity by purchasing a gun. The factors that influence and help to shape James and Dave into men include both their environment and interactions with and discipline of their mothers.

In "The Sky Is Gray" James displays his maturity early on when he is waiting at the bus stop with his mother to go to the dentist's office. His mind was on his mother and whether she had left enough wood to keep the family warm, if it was going to rain, and if the hog was going to get out. He knew that his mother would not be worrying about these things if he was there to look after the family and everything else. Throughout the rest of the story, there are many other instances where James's shows his maturity--from walking in the bitter cold, to the confrontation between his mother and the pimp in the café. Being without, has taught James to be appreciative. More importantly, he has learned that the decisions he makes affect not only him, but everyone around him.

By contrast, Dave is the complete opposite. His immaturity is revealed in the opening paragraph of the story when he says, "A man oughta have a little gun aftah he done worked hard all day." He does not have a valid reason for wanting to own a gun, but feels that a gun will make him a man and earn him respect. His immaturity is further revealed when he accidentally shoots Mr. Hawkins's mule. Instead of confessing, he lies about the incident by telling him that the mule fell on a plow in order to avoid the responsibility of his actions. After Mr. Hawkins realizes that Dave was the one who shot his mule, he tells him that he could work and pay him two dollars a month for the dead mule. However, Dave chooses to neglect his responsibilities once again by hopping a train to leave town. As long as he has the gun, he feels that he is a man. He leaves town, not thinking about how his family is affected by his actions. While Dave is selfish and unconcerned, James is selfless and compassionate. This can be attributed mainly to the boy's environment. Unlike Dave, James is exposed to the most...

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