Monday, September 05, 2011

Reader's Diary #758- Stephen Crane: A Dark Brown Dog

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."

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Julie @ Read Handed said...

Sorry your story for today was so depressing. Maybe Crane was trying to comment on abusive relationships and the loyalty that one person can develop toward another (a mother and a child, two lovers, etc.) despite the abuse. That kind of relationship can only end badly. I reviewed a great collection of short stories for today - Forgetting English.

John Mutford said...

Julie: Possibly. But then, the boy should probably have been the cause of the dog's ultimate demise. That wasn't the case. Maybe it's that we should look after ourselves first as no one else will. Again, pretty bleak statement.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I really don't think I can read this story. Thanks for the warning.