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Child by Tiger Written by Thomas Wolfe

Essay by   •  January 6, 2016  •  Essay  •  864 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,243 Views

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The Child by Tiger is a short story written by Thomas Wolfe. The time this book was written happened to be the time when whites were racist towards the African American community.  In the short story, a black servant named Dick Prosser serves the white Shepperton family. He is an ex-militant who is capable of doing many kinds of tasks. He could cook, clean, build a fire, drive, and even shoot with the highest precision. Prosser also went to church three times a week and he read a Bible every night. In fact, it was the only object on his table in his room.  In the beginning, Wolfe portrays Dick as a tidy, organized, self-respecting, and religious man; someone with these qualities are often assumed to be generous,kind people. Yet, under him lies something much more evil that all humans possess.

Wolfe presents Prosser as both a human victim of racism while being a symbol of evil. In Thomas Wolfe's Child by Tiger, he expresses an important setting so revolutionary for its time, which takes place throughout the 1930’s. The setting expresses a racial environment in a community of hatred. Dick Prosser, a man of morals, is racially victimized  by members of the town causing his racial anger to increase due to the members of the community. As the story concludes leaving the town’s community confused about information on Prosser, the narrator generalizes his setting on where Prosser came from: He came from darkness. Basically, the narrator of the story considers Prosser as a symbol of something present in all of us. He believes the soul of every man is of its own origin and contains unfathomed possibilities for violence as well as innocence. Dick Prosser is presented as the victim of racism. He implies this when Prosser is attacked by a drunk Lon Everett. One day, Lon Everett sideswipes their vehicle and knocks off the fender. Prosser, while taking safety precautions, hauls out his unhurt master. Everett immediately releases himself from the car and violently attacks Prosser with vicious blows to the face. Even with his eyes flushed red and bleeding, Prosser does not react. This act of racism demonstrates the society Dick lives in. Dick, when first seen, is an innocent man who is tortured simply because he is of a different skin tone. From what was seen so far, Dick can be seen as a pacifist who despite having years of military training did not fight back. However, in Dick, lies something that lies in all of us but is not seen very often. For us, it is a yearning for vengeance when feel we have been wronged. In Dick’s case it is a dormant yearning for revenge that is masked by a religious personality but came out when he was wronged.

At that time when African Americans and caucasians were considered opposites, the African Americans were treated as inferiors. The caucasians would treat the African Americans like slaves and abuse them both physically and mentally.  This same treatment occurs in Wolfe’s portrayment of Prosser in his relationship with Pansy. During the time of his rampage, Prosser visited Pansy in her shack in “Niggertown”. An hour after Dick’s arrival, a drunk Harris arrives home. Both Dick and Harris are drunk along with an impaired judgement, they get into a fight. It ended with Prosser shooting Harris in the back of their head. This gruesome act can be seen as stemming from both people being drunk, but there could have been some feelings behind it. When the two policemen show up to the scene. When this happens, Dick Prosser seized Pansy by the arm, hurled her into the shack, bolted the door, pulled down the shades, blew out the lamp and waited. Prosser must of had feelings for Pansy, since he went to see her during his rampage. Harris was a victim of Prosser s jealousy, and is only shot since he was at his own place at the wrong time. Prosser needs love to stay hostile. His religious personality hides the fact that he assassinates members of the community because he's a victim of racism. Therefore, Prosser reveals his evil, that was hidden by his more redeeming qualities.

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