Cathers Paul and Wrights Dave

Book Report/Review
Pages 5 (1255 words)
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While comparing Willa Cather's Paul's Case to Richard Wright's A Man who was Almost a Man, one cannot help but notice the striking similarities between these two short stories. The protagonists of both stories are young adults, who somehow do not find themselves at peace with the environment they inhabit.


The reason for Paul and Dave's sense of entrapment stems from their lack of social and economic power. While Paul was born to a middle-class worker who had "a worthy ambition to come up in the world", Dave was condemned to the life of a farm laborer. Disillusioned by their surroundings, both of them felt the need to salvage their situation. Whereas Paul thought money could transform his identity, Dave was misled to believe that owning a gun could help him earn respect.
Though both Paul and Dave share a common goal - to rise above their ordinary existence, they end up adopting different means to achieve it. Whereas Dave sweet talks his mother into giving him the two dollars required to buy the gun, Paul does something drastic - he steals one thousand dollars. These different actions cast both of them in different lights. The reader finds Dave childish in his strategy for getting a gun. "Mebbe Ma will lemme buy one when she gits mah pay from ol man Hawkins," Dave speculates, sounding every bit a boy as he resolves, "Ahma beg her t gimme some money." After he procures the gun, he is mighty careful in hiding it. Later, when he is overcome by the desire to hold it, he makes sure that he is safe and he plows "two whole rows before he decide[s] to take out the gun" . ...
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