An analysis of the short story “Robert and the Dog” by Ken Saro-Wiwa shows that the text has a chronological structure. The story focuses on the main character’s life as a steward for a young doctor, where he receives respect and appreciation. The story takes a turn when Robert refuses to tend to his masters’ dog and lets the animal die.

The main character is a steward named Robert. The story provides several clues that reveal Robert’s previous employers have been difficult to work for and that his current job makes him grateful and content. However, Robert’s sudden awareness of the extent of inequality in the world leads him to make a drastic decision. 

The setting is the young doctor’s household, where Robert works as a steward. The doctor’s house is described in contrast with Robert’s poor apartment in a neighborhood called “The Jungle”, where he lives with his wife and six children. The two settings make Robert question the concept of humanity and what it means to truly feel like a human being. 

The events are told by a third-person narrator who has access to Robert’s perspective. Robert’s point of view helps readers understand more about his background, as well as what motivates him. 

The language used in the short story is informal and helps readers understand Robert’s perspective of the events. Several metaphors and repetitions highlight Robert’s attitude toward his employers and life, in general. 

You can read a full analysis of the short story on the following pages.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Social setting

Robert’s hatred towards his employers’ dog is mainly caused by the cultural differences and social inequality between him and his masters. Robert is Nigerian and comes from a lower class, always tending to rich employers and being accustomed to their ill-treatment. The doctor’s wife is European and has different values and opinions regarding pets...

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