"A Dark Brown Dog" Characters

The main characters in “A Dark Brown Dog” are the dark brown dog, the child, and the father.

  • The dark brown dog is a small, soft, submissive stray. It becomes a devoted companion to the child in spite of the mistreatment it suffers and has clearly suffered in the past.
  • The child is a young boy who adopts the dark brown dog, protecting it from his family’s violence but also sometimes beating it himself.
  • The father is a cruel drunkard who abuses the dog and the child, ultimately killing the dog by throwing it out the window.


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The Dark Brown Dog

The story is written in third-person past tense, and the viewpoint is largely restricted to that of the dog. As readers, we understand what the dog is thinking, feeling, and hoping for, even when other people in the story may not. The small dark brown dog is described as extremely soft, and this is true in both a literal and a figurative sense. It has clearly been owned by someone else, who has either abandoned it or from whom it has escaped, before the story begins, as indicated by the fact that there is a trailing rope around its neck when it meets the child. It is used to being owned. We can assume that it is also used to some level of rough treatment, whether from people or other animals, we do not know, because it howls in the night and has bad dreams. It is also, however, incredibly capable of devotion, not least because it seems to believe that it deserves any blows that are inflicted upon it. It is given to praying, which involves rolling onto its back and holding up its paws in a particular manner. Presumably something has indicated to the dog that this is a way of preventing humans from hurting it: it is an attitude that shows complete submission and dedication to the human's will. The dog is able to win over the affection of the child by gambolling and frisking and being generally incredibly devoted; it also then devotes its time to loving and protecting the small child it has adopted.

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The Child

The child in this story is unnamed. We do not know anything about him other than that he is a boy and that he is young enough still to be in dresses and to have to crawl down the stairs backward. From this, we can assume that the child is essentially a toddler, but he comes from an extremely working-class family, living in a tenement block, and therefore is allowed to freely wander the neighborhood without supervision. The cries of the child are the greatest fear of the household: they will do anything to prevent having to listen to his cries, which is why they refrain from hurting the dog when he is present. The child is at first unconvinced of the dog's value, but once he recognizes that it could be a valuable and adoring companion, he quickly becomes fast friends with it. The child is the ruler of the dog's small world; he protects it, loves it, and comes to it for attention and sympathy when he feels unhappy. Sometimes he hurts the dog, but even then, the dog forgives him. At the end of the story, we see clearly the impact that the death of the dog has had upon the child. It...

(The entire section contains 783 words.)

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