I'm trying my best not to call Stephen Crane's "A Dark Brown Dog" depressing and pointless. I'll stick with the depressing for now, but I can't believe any story is truly pointless. An author can only create with intent, right?
"A Dark Brown Dog" is about a boy and a dog who mutually adopt one another. The boy first encounters the dog walking down the sidewalk with a short rope attached to its neck. It seems evident early on that the dog has learned to be submissive, and one might even go as so far as to conclude that it must have been previously abused. Unfortunately, it seems as if that's the dog fate as things don't seem to get a whole lot better with the boy and his family. Maybe it does somewhat for the boy, giving him some purpose, but if the boy ever comes to appreciate that is left unsaid. Early on I suspected that Crane was trying to show the value of resiliency, but a tragic ending dispels that theory. Maybe his message is simply that life sucks.
I was somewhat reminded of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, with the dog's loyalty being a rough equivalent of the tree's unconditional love. I really despise that story but I know a lot of people would disagree with me. Those people might appreciate Crane's "A Dark Brown Dog."
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