Jenny The Moule In Richard Wainwright's The Man Who Was Almost A Man

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In Richard Wainwright’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man, many dominant symbols are used in order to add more depth and meaning to the story. A symbol allows a reader to analyze a work on a deeper scale; it allows a reader to add their own meaning where something is otherwise meaningless. Jenny the mule is “jusa oh mule” and is portrayed as overlooked, overworked, and headstrong. These elements of Jenny are paralleled with the unrecognized, backbreaking labor Dave has done all his life and the adamant, single-minded personality he has. Therefore, Jenny the mule symbolizes Dave because he shows similarities to his drudgery as a farmhand, his ignored presence due to being an inferior black man, and his stubbornness as a young adolescent. Jenny…show more content…
Jenny and Dave both work hard in the fields everyday and both get no appreciation for their taxing labor. A mule’s main purpose is to be a work horse. During the reconstruction era, slaves were promised “40 acres and a mule”, showing that mules are a crucial, expected component when working in the fields. Therefore, Jenny is expected to be working in Mr. Hawkins field. Similarly, Dave’s main purpose as a boy was to work in the field. He tells his mom, “Ah done worked hard alla summer,” to which she replies, “Thas whut yuh spose t do!" Even Dave’s own mom expects him to be working. As a black male in the 1960’s, Dave is supposed to work in the fields just like mules are supposed to work in the fields. In addition, both Dave and the mule are overlooked and underappreciated. When in the field, “Jenny stood with (her) head down,” showing she does not feel like she is worthy of praise. This is most likely a result of never…show more content…
The common saying “stubborn as a mule” automatically makes Jenny the mule symbolize stubbornness, and Dave shows many instances of being stubborn in the story. First, Dave wants a gun, and nothing is going to get in his way of getting that gun. Even when his mom says, “yuh gone plumb crazy?,” Dave still persists and eventually convinces his mom to let him get a gun. In addition, Dave’s mom tells Dave to bring the gun he buys right back to her. Due to being so headstrong and not willing to listen to what his mom says, Dave hides the gun under his pillow. This proves Dave to be stubborn even when it comes to his parents. Dave also shows he is stubborn when he shoots the gun a second time, after he killed Jenny. He is so determined to be a good shooter that nothing will stand in his way of doing it. Mule’s are thought to have this same stubborn quality. Therefore, since Jenny embodies this stubborn quality because she is a mule, and the details of the story prove that Dave too has stubborn qualities, Jenny becomes a symbol for

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