The short stories Barn Burning by William Faulkner, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright, both focus on the lives of two young men from two very different time periods. In Barn Burning, Abner Snopes is the main character, and he is a sharecropper living in the south in the early 1900's. Abner is a proud man who chooses to stand up for his rights, even when it means burning down a barn to make a statement against his employer. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, the protagonist is Dave Saunders, a young African-American teenager living in the mid-twentieth century. Dave feels the need to prove his manhood and sets out to purchase a gun with his meager wages from working at the local store.
Although the stories have different settings and characters, they both explore the theme of masculinity and what it means to be a man. Abner Snopes is a man of action; he stands up for his beliefs and makes sure that his family is taken care of before himself. Dave Saunders, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out what it means to be a man. He is caught between wanting to be accepted by his peers and wanting to do the right thing. Both characters struggle to define their identity within their respective societies, but take different paths in their search for approval and respect.
In addition, both stories also explore ideas of poverty and power. Abner struggles against the landowners who try to take advantage of him and his family, while Dave is stuck in an oppressive situation of poverty which limits his choices and keeps him from achieving his dreams. Both characters are desperate for freedom and respect, but are held back by their circumstances.
Overall, William Faulkners Barn Burning and Richard Wrights The Man Who Was Almost a Man present two very different stories about two young men searching for identity and meaning in their lives. While both stories explore themes of masculinity, poverty, and power, they also represent two very distinct views on how these issues can be addressed.