Dave Saunders is a 17-year-old male, working as a field hand for money that his mother holds onto for him, because she deems him too irresponsible to handle his finances. Dave struggles to gain respect from the other workers due to his young age, as they often "talk to him as though he were a little boy" (p 6). Saunders begins to consider himself a work mule; he does all the work for none of the pay or glory. He fantasizes about the day he will become a respected man. Dave feels he can obtain this respect by owning a gun. He becomes totally enamored with the idea of buying the weapon and officially proving himself a man. Simply holding the gun fills him with a sense of raw power, "In the grey light of dawn he held it loosely, feeling a sense of power. Could kill a man with this.... nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him”(p 8). To Dave, the gun is the gateway to his manhood. The weapon is a symbol of masculinity, power and fear, which Dave interprets as equaling respect. He assumes that owning the weapon will also provide him with independence, as it gives him control over the lives of others. Once becoming a man he will be able to do whatever he pleases, and others will respect him for it.
Like a child, he begs his mother for money to buy a gun instead of using the money for his school clothes like Mrs. Saunders wishes. Dave ultimately resorts to lying to receive the authorization to buy one, claiming that “…Ma. I kin give it to Pa…Please, Ma! Ah loves yuh, Ma”(p 8). However, instead of returning the gun to her like asks, Saunders hides it. Basking in its power, he shoots the gun to usher himself into manhood.
However, the gun highlights how much of a child Dave really is. He uses the weapon unsupervis...
... middle of paper ...
...to take, would have symbolized a step towards manhood. For example, giving the gun to his mother when she initially asked for it instead of lying about its whereabouts would have shown that he could be trusted and was responsible enough to handle the weapon. Even admitting his misdeeds, and a genuine attempt to atone for killing Jenny would have demonstrated the level of maturity, responsibility and independence associated with manhood. Instead of doing this, Dave is unable to make a decision that is morally correct because of its difficultly. He refuses to work hard in order to earn enough money to pay off his debts, and prefers to run away, leaving his mistakes behind. Leaving us with little hope for his future. Dave was correct in believing that obtaining a gun was a fast track ticket to manhood, yet he wanted the freedom of adulthood with none of its obligations.
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