Unraveling Masculinity: Walter Dean Myers’ Journey in “Bad Boy”

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Sep 01, 2023
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  2
Order Original Essay

How it works

Harlem’s Expectations: Myers’ Struggle with the Traditional Male Image

What does it mean to be male? Walter Dean Myers explores this topic throughout his childhood and early adulthood. In Bad Boy: A Memoir, Myers often struggled with trying to establish his identity as a male in Harlem. According to Myers, he knew what it meant to be a male in Harlem. “I understood being a man as having some kind of power. In Harlem, that power was expressed in muscle, in being someone who wouldn’t take any nonsense or who was good at athletics”.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

Being a male was characterized by being tough and fighting anyone who gave him a hard time, which is what Myers did in school. It was also said that if you were male, you were athletic and played sports. “It was also defined as someone who had a lot of money: a big car, an expensive watch, or expensive clothes. There was a sexual component as well. A real man paid attention to women”. Myers thought men bought fancy things to show out and attract women. Though Myers knew what was expected of men at that time, he still was incapable of following those guidelines.

Hidden Passions: How Literature Became Myers’ Secret and Salvation

Myers often felt at a loss because the activities he enjoyed were not widely accepted by the community. “I didn’t see anybody talking about being a poet or a short story writer. Nor did I see anybody defining a real man as somebody who paid a lot of attention to books”. Myers loved reading and writing, but that was not normal for a man in Harlem, so he became forced to hide it as a secret vice from the world. “The other voice, the one I hid from my street friends and teammates, was increasingly dealing with the vocabulary of literature.” Myers had great knowledge of literature, but he hid it from the world to avoid teasing. Even when he went to the George Bruce Branch Library to check out books, he would carry them home, hiding them in brown paper bags. Myers aspired to be successful in life.

Myers did not want to be just another working man in Harlem. “But I know that a poor education would probably land me in a “Negro” job, that lower level of employment in which so many of the neighborhood men seemed to be hopelessly stuck.” Most men Myers saw in Harlem were poor and had manual labor jobs such as working in the garment factory. He did not want that for himself, so he worked hard and read books to become successful. “Reading this literature, these books, led to the canvas of my own humanity.” Later in Myers’s life, he began to be proud of his literary capabilities, and it shaped him in a way nothing else could. As a result of Myers’s determination and knowledge of literature, he wrote and typed stories for children. Even though reading and writing weren’t accepted by the world by a man in Harlem, many people supported Myers in his literary endeavors.


  • Myers, W. D. (2001). Bad Boy: A Memoir. HarperCollins.
The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Unraveling Masculinity: Walter Dean Myers' Journey in "Bad Boy". (2023, Sep 01). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/unraveling-masculinity-walter-dean-myers-journey-in-bad-boy/