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Theme of Respect by Others in The Horse Dealer's Daughter and The Man Who Was Almost a Man: Critical Analysis

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The primary concern of the writer of this paper is to evaluate the similar theme “Respect by Others” towards the protagonists of the two stories “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” written by D.H. Laurence and “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright first and second respectively.

The similarities of the both stories in respect to the theme “Respect by Others” are analyzed by using various story devices like plot, setting, character, irony, tone.

The essay discusses different aspects associated with the protagonists of both the considered stories. It further shows how Mabel and Dave proceeds with their life in order to earn “Respect by Others” in their life and reaches the most tragic phase of their lives by the end of the story.

In context to the first story it can be specified that the plots set by the author are contrasting. In the beginning the protagonist of the story is found to be unfortunate and nobody likes her and she is all alone as her father had died and left her in debt. However, by the end of the story it is found out that the protagonist, Mabel, gets a commitment for lifetime which makes her the most fortunate and develops a situation where people would respect Mabel. Moreover, in context to the second story, it can be said that the protagonist, Dave who was a boy wanted to be a man and gets freedom from racial hardship. To pursue his dreams, he purchased a gun and took several starts to prove his manliness in front of others and earn respect from others, especially whites by showing the possession of a gun.

Both the plots of the stories are developed in a way where the protagonists seek respect. In this way the theme of this essay, that is “Respect by Others” can be justified.

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The following section discusses the setting of both the considered prose in respect to an example from the stories.

In the first story, the author has described the pond which is the turning point of the story as a “green, shallow, sodden hollow of fields, lay a square, deep pond” (Laurenc). It was in the falling afternoon when Mabel slowly got into the pond and Jack Fergusson, the doctor came to rescue her. Such a setting shows that Mabel, the protagonist of the story is discontented with her life, that she has never been valued and respected by others. At such a moment of realization she wanted to end up her life. this implies that due to lack of “Respect by Others”, the protagonist of the story intended to give up on her life. Contrary to this, in the second story, the author arranged a setting of the turning point of the story in an early morning, where Dave and Jenny were present in the field where Dave worked. Dave was to present his manliness in front of Jenny which unfortunately turns out to be a murder when the bullet of Dave’s gun shots Jenny by mistake (Wright 4). The protagonist of the story states “Know whut this is, Jenny? Naw, yuh wouldn know! Yuhs jusa ol mule! Anyhow, this is a gun, n it kin shoot, by Gawd!” when he got down the woods with Jenny. This phrase states that Dave, the protagonist to story tries to show his manliness in front of Jenny and earn respect from her. The setting further relates to the theme “Respect by Others”.

After the thorough analysis of both the stories, a significant similarity has been found out between the two protagonists. In this context, it can be stated both Mabel and Dave wanted recognition in life. Due to lack of importance respect and love, Mabel had decided to commit suicide. The story shows how a bull-dog faced woman turn into an assertive sexual woman when she meets Jack Ferguson. On the other hand, due to exploring his manliness and elevating respect towards himself by others, Dave had purchased a gun with $2. Therefore, with the help of a close analysis, it can be stated that in order to earn “Respect by Others”, both the protagonists of the stories had chosen a path of escape. The character of Dave represent that he is an immature boy who does not have the knowledge of the path to earn “Respect by Others” yet wants to earn “Respect by Others”.

From the keen analysis of both the stories two most important irony have been evident. In respect to the first story, it can be stated that the protagonist had a life which was meaningless. She found her life to be void and worthless. Soon when she was near to her death, she experienced her life changing moments. From death to a lifetime commitment, from ignorance to respect, the life of Mabel Pervin had changed completely. Similarly, in the second story, it has been evident that Dave who was a 17-year-old boy wanted to be a man and overcome the social structure where the blacks were always dominated by the whites. So, he thought of buying in order to break racial hardship. However, ironically his own plan backfires which causes him humiliation and represents his immaturity rather than his manliness.

An example from the first story is “I feel awful. I feel awful. I feel I’m horrible to you” (Laurenc). The tone of expression by the protagonist that exclaims that she is terrible and disgusting to the doctors as the doctor has no intention to love her yet she feels that she forcefully makes the doctor feel for her and love her. An example from the second story is “Quit hollerin at me! Whut’s wrong wid yuh? Yuh crazy?” (Wright 2). The tone of the expression is that Dave is asking his other to stop checking on him as he is adult enough to handle a gun.

This paper helps in concluding the similarities and dissimilarities of both the stories by the application of story devices.

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Theme of Respect by Others in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and The Man Who Was Almost a Man: Critical Analysis. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
“Theme of Respect by Others in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and The Man Who Was Almost a Man: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Theme of Respect by Others in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and The Man Who Was Almost a Man: Critical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Jun. 2023].
Theme of Respect by Others in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and The Man Who Was Almost a Man: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jun 10]. Available from:
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