The Sky is Gray and Almos' A Man, Theme Comparison Essay

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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
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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 impoverished conditions and can adapt to any situation. With six other family members in his household, there was little money to spare. However, Dave's environment was not impoverished. His family had the bare necessities and was even able to save money for winter clothes. They had food and never asked Dave to go out and hunt for them anything to eat. It is these circumstances that help to contribute to Dave's selfish desires when he wants to spend his work money foolishly on a gun instead of winter clothes, and again when he chooses to run away from his responsibilities.

The boys' relationships with their mothers also play a vital role in their maturation. From the beginning of "The Sky Is Gray" Octavia appears to be an uncaring mother when James says that he loves her and wants to tell her, but he is not supposed to because his mother viewed that as a sign of weakness and "cry baby stuff." However, she displays several acts of affection to