“Robert and the Dog”
Point of view in a story is something I find extremely interesting, simply because of the obvious fact that every single one of us have our own way of seeing things. Every one of us has a different point of view. For instance, when it is raining outside, my first thought would probably express some sort of happiness. The majority of people in Norway, would, on the other hand, probably complain. It’s all about perception. Analyzing literature gives us the advantage and opportunity of seeing things in perspective, particularly if the story is written in 3.person point of view. In the following text to come, I will be discussing a bit about the short stories “Robert and the Dog”, “A Shocking Accident” and “The Raft”. Jumping into my thoughts about these three (wonderfully written) texts, you will have the opportunity to receive these stories the way I have understood them.
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Ken Saro- Wiwa was borned in 1941 and passed away in 1995. Being 54 years old, he died at relatively short age, due to the fact that he was executed because he fought for the interest of the minority Ogoni people in Niger Delta. He has with other words a lot of experience when it comes to oppression. In “Robert and the Dog”, we meet a father of six children in Nigeria. He is overly happy with his employers (he is a steward) who treat him strangely well. In the first paragraph, we understand that he’s used to being oppressed. Living in Norway in 2013, we take it for granted that our employers don’t lose their tempers or shout at us, and it is a fact that they call us by our first name. For Robert, however, this is something to be “extremely grateful” for.
He begins “to feel like a human being”. Graham Greene was born in 1994 and passed away in 1991. He was bipolar, and maybe that’s a part of the reason why he has created Jerome in “A Shocking Accident” with such weird and infrequent way of thinking. While “Robert
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and the Dog” goes deep into how a middle –aged Nigerian man thinks, “A Shocking Accident” has a British young boy in mind. Jerome has the impression and conclusion that his father “was a member of the British Secret Service”, while in reality he was probably and more like just a boring, average “widowed author”. The difference between irony in both of these two stories, is that in Robert and the Dog, it’s more about cultural perceptions, while in this story it’s more irony in a nutshell.
“Robert and the Dog” is written in third person limited point of view, seen through Robert’s eyes. In order to understand the situation through the sight of Robert, we need to know a bit about him as a character. Robert is a steward in Nigeria, and the employers are from the western world. In the first paragraph, we understand that he’s used to being oppressed. Living in Norway in 2013, we take it for granted that our employers don’t lose their tempers or shout at us, and it is a fact that they call us by our first name. For Robert, however, this is something to be “extremely grateful” for. He begins “to feel like a human being”.
Eventually the dog Bingo comes in, and even though Bingo doesn’t do anything (he’s just there with his owners, Roberts employers), he still plays the role as the antagonist. He’s the “only source of worry”. Robert immediately sees how the owners of the dog almost treat him better than himself, a human being. He gets to the conclusion that “the dog was doing better than himself”. In the third paragraph, the narrator tells us that Robert lives in the filth in a small apartment with his wife and six children. Always repairing the “nightly to exercise his authority over his household”, he likes having control. He looks at himself as a man worthy of being heard and obeyed.
When he, however, goes to work, he realizes that he acts just like the dog when the employers treat him nice. While being the readers, we understand that the employers are coming from a completely different background and experiences, with different circumstances and conditions. In the end of the story, the employers go on a vacation, leaving Bingo alone with Robert. We, as the readers, know how much hatred this protagonist (Robert) has grown towards the dog, and we have realized why. How can this dog be fed and cleaned every day, when his children are starving in the filth a couple of distances away – and the dog gets the opportunity to see the doctor?
While growing up in the rich and wealthy side of the world, the first thought that comes to mind, is how cruel Robert was when leaving the dog to die and giving his children the dog’s food. We, nevertheless, also understand the facts that he basically saved his children from starving. Isn’t saving his own six children better than having to let one dog die? After reading “Robert and the Dog”, we comprehend how dehumanizing we have become, when our first reaction is the cruelty of Robert as he left the dog to die. We also understand that we should start considering to help and have the same sympathy and reaction when it comes to human beings.
“A Shocking accident”
We also have a completely different text that basically plays on irony and humor: “A Shocking Accident” by Graham Greene. This short story is also written in the third person limited point of view, as we see things from Jerome’s mind. In the first paragraph, we know that Jerome is a warden at a prep school in Britain. “To his eight birthday”, he thought of his father as someone with an extremely exciting life; he was probably working for British Secret Service, Jerome thought – just to be informed that his father died when a pig fell on him. Jerome’s first thought in this scene was, “What happened to the pig?” Who thinks that as a first thought? Isn’t that a bit strange? Indeed, I would agree. We get the impression of a weird, unusual boy – and most of us can’t understand his way of thinking.