Theme and message


Social inequality

The short story “Robert and the Dog” by Ken Saro-Wiwa explores the theme of social inequality. When he begins his job as the young doctor’s steward, Robert is content because he finally feels he is treated like a human being: “Robert began to feel like a human being, and he felt extremely grateful to his new employers”. The doctor and his wife are kind towards him, they treat him nicely, they show appreciation and they are even interested in the wellbeing of his family, which is new for Robert who has been mistreated by his employers before. Because of this, Robert feels human and appreciated.

The situation changes when Robert witnesses the conditions in which Bingo, the family dog, lives. The dog is spoiled, taken to the doctor, served food on a plate, and even sleeps on a settee. This comes as a shock for Robert, who feels that he has fallen on society’s hierarchy: 

The dog appeared as important to the lady as her husband and, indeed, Robert thought, in the order of things, the dog was more important than himself. Try as hard as he might, he could not dismiss from his mind the fact that the dog was doing better than himself. And he detested this state of affairs.


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