Oftentimes, in a literary work, a write presents a character who seeks life’s meanings in his search for the truth. In the story, “A Child by Tiger”, the main character, Dick Prosser, becomes engulfed in an ongoing battle between himself and society. However, on idea is certain—when man is pushed to his extreme, his evil innocence is revealed.
Dick Prosser is an African American man trapped in a racist, oppressive society. The society consists of two types of people: the people like the Sheppertons, Hugh McNair, and Will Hendershot who, someday, wish to abolish “lynch law”, and people like the drunken sot Lon Everett, who embody the idea of white supremacy. This society, as a whole, is what shapes the identity of Dick Prosser.
At first, the author depicts Prosser as a kind, African-American do-gooder who works for the Sheppertons. To the children, Prosser is an all-around perfect guy: he can throw a football, sing in tune, and kick a prestigious punt. Fundamentally, to the reader, Prosser is the “child”, as stated in the title; an innocent, untainted, kindred soul, that is incapable of doing any harm to any other being.
However, the other half of Prosser’s identity is the tiger. One day, when Prosser is driving Mr. Shepperton, Lon Everett manages to collide into Prosser. Everett, inebriated and disorderly, blamed Prosser for the collision and then begins to pound him to a bloody pulp. This overall suppression of Prosser is what causes “the eyes to go red”. Therefore, Prosser’s suppressive treatment shows the other, tiger side of his identity in the form of a homicidal rampage.
If Prosser weren’t in the story, the reader would never recognize the true essence of it as a whole. His identity is displayed through the title. “A Child by Tiger” is what Prosser’s identity consists of—a child side and a tiger side. However, Prosser’s actions are not only the embodiment of what happens when ...