Characterization of Robert

Robert is the main character of the short story “Robert and the Dog” by Ken Saro-Wiwa. Robert currently works as a steward for “a young medical doctor just returned from abroad”. Several clues suggest that Robert’s previous employers were not as kind as the young doctor:

It was obvious to Robert that he had not been in the country for a long time. Because he did not once lose his temper, he did not shout at Robert, he called him by his first name, and always asked him about his wife, children and other members of his family. Robert, accustomed to moving from household to household, thought he had at last found fulfillment. 

These clues suggest that Robert has most likely suffered because of the ill-treatment of his previous employers, who probably shouted at him and treated him badly. 

Robert enjoys exercising his authority over the young doctor’s household. He likes feeling in control and enjoys the “tremendous power” that his job offers him. Robert also exercises his authority in his private life, with his wife and children: “The experience he had gained in running his household helped him a great deal in organising the life of each new employer”. After he reluctantly meets his employer’s wife, Robert feels grateful f...

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