Stephen Crane's disturbing naturalistic story, "A Dark Brown Dog" conveys a brutish tone to the life of the family of the boy to whom the dog attaches itself. The home is obviously one in the tenements in a city such as New York. Isolated from nature and from God and society, the family is reduced to almost insensate behavior. For instance, the little boy is initially cruel to the little dog, who is desperate to find someone to feed it. Once he ingratiates himself to the boy, the poor dog must endure the cruelties of the other members of the family, although the boy does grow affectionate toward the little dog and defends it as he can.
When the father returns one day, in an exceptionally foul and drunken mood, he is unbelievably cruel to this poor dog, who has done nothing wrong, and has rolled over and "prayed" with his paws in a subservient position. But the cruel, bitter man, unhappy with life, grabs the dog and hurls him out the window, killing him. His little son, who has learned of love from this humble creature, scoots down stairs until he reaches the alley where he sits for a long time by "the body of his dark-brown friend."