Quest for Manhood

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Quest for Manhood

Manhood is when a boy takes the leap from being a child to a true man. People say that leap happens at different times for every boy. People can tell it happens because they stop acting foolishly and deal with matters by themselves. The four stories The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”, “The Man Who Killed a Shadow”, and “Almos’ a Man” all deal with African American boys and them becoming true men. The literature of Richard Wright and Malcolm X illustrate how African American males encountered much difficulty in asserting their manhood while living within the racist society of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Racism denied African American males the opportunity to gain economic power. In “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”, the young African American boy gets a job in a factory. He works with white men and wants to learn more. One day he is told that the factory is “a white man’s work…and [he] better watch [him] self!” (241) The white men feel he is threatening their job even though he is just trying to support his family. They threaten him and make him quit his job. Unlike the young boy who already has a job, Malcolm X moves to Boston to search for a new job. During Malcolm X, Malcolm decides his life would be better if he moves in with his sister. He was walking through the city and noticed these people were “only a big city version of those successful Negro bootblacks and janitors back in Lansing” (42). Janitors and bootblacks were considered successful jobs for African Americans where that job for a white man would be around middle to lower class. Blacks don’t even have a chance at a good job like a lawyer or doctor. “The Man with a Shadow” is about an African American man growing up in life. He is working as a janitor and his boss has legs spread wide open and her panties showing. He is embarrassed and refuses to clean under her desk. The boss becomes angry and screams, “‘You’re being paid to clean,...
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