English Written Assignment
Analyze of the text “The baddest dog in Harlem” by Walter Dean Myers
The story tells of a group people, including the narrator (the author Walter Dean Myers?), and what the group experiences one tragic day in Harlem. We meet the group as they discuss which boxer is the best in the world, when suddenly many policemen begin to appear, and begin to ask questions about a suspect they are searching for. Unfortunately, one policeman slips in some dog shit and his gun accidentally goes off, which results in all of the cops shooting at one particular window. The owner of the apartment (Mary) that just got shot up, returns home and begins a debate with the police who are interested in the whereabouts of her boyfriend. Eventually Mary, some cops and the narrator goes together into her apartment. The police suspect is not there, but the place is completely shot up and on the floor Mary’s dog lays dead from multiple bullet wounds. On the way back down from Mary’s apartment again, the police take notice of another apartment door and they inspect that apartment also, where they find the body of a young black boy who has also been shot and killed – an innocent victim of the earlier police gunfire.
Characterization of characters:
The main character in the text is the narrator. He is certainly a black man. I do not know for certain the name of the narrator, but it is easy to assume that it may be the author Walter Dean Myers. Readers are not given much information of the about the central character in the text, but it becomes obvious that the main character as well as the rest of his debating group are black people. The main character (Myers) seems to me like a very scared and nervous person.
Point of view:
The while story is presented with the narrator’s eyes. It is a first person narrator.
The title “The baddest dog in Harlem” stems from Mary’s poor dog. When Mary, the police and the central character go up to check the apartment, they find the bullet-riddled dog that some policemen thought might have been their suspect (from jumping around in the window during the police gunfire). This leads one of the policemen to ironically say, "It is the baddest dog in Harlem."
The setting takes place outside of a café or similar place called “Big Joe’s Place”, on 145th Street in Harlem, USA where the narrator, Willie, Pedro, Tommy, Mr. Lynch and the others are initially sitting and talking. Harlem, a poor area of Manhattan, is the home to many thousands of black people. Harlem goes under the term “Ghetto”. Many people living there do not have jobs, and they live in big, run-down apartment buildings with dilapidated apartments. Harlem is known as a poor slum area, full of gangs and crime. The setting of Harlem is used in this text to help demonstrate how an ordinary day can change in an instant and turn a peaceful conversation between friends to a police “war zone” with shooting all over the place.
The text is written in spoken language, and there are many contraction whispered words. Many words are purposely mis-spelled to show how they should be pronounced. The narrator’s way to write the story reflects the way he pronounces the words and he has written the story in a way that you should be able to see themselves within the situation he describes. In this way he made use of different tones of voice and criticism, among other things. He also uses emotions such as humour and compassion. It all fits however, with how the story changes and how he has written the story.
The theme of the text could be meant to demonstrate the (stereotypical) racism, between police and black people. For example, the police asked them to stay where they are outside on the street, instead of helping them to get to a safe place. The text is written down as it has been said, and the tone is very hard when the police talk to the blacks. For example, when they talk to Mary. Another...
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