One reason why the story, The Child by Tiger, is so plausible is because of the story’s setting. The physical setting that the author has portrayed helps you fully understand the emotions that his character are feeling. In 1912 the blacks had little to no rights, they lived in little shacks that had no electricity or nearly enough room in them for every family member that occupied the shack. They had one communal phone that was located in the only grocery store they had, they had a drugstore, barber shops and poolrooms. Everything was located on Gulley Street, which was almost like Broadway to the African Americans. Gulley Street then turned into South Dean that lead to the Square on the white side of town.
The town square was located in the middle of the white side of town. Along side the square shops where located, simple things like the Police HQ, Lunchroom, School and Cash Eagers Hardware. Not only did they have more shops then the African-American’s but they also had alleys and streetlights that always turned on during the night. The whites then also owned beautiful homes with large yards and enough room for everyone who lived in the home. They even had enough room to home some of the servants that lived with them, giving the African-Americans a house and a job. Within their large homes, the whites had crank cars that in the winter, they had to boil water and put it down the radiator spout before it would start. But even if their cars couldn’t start, they could just go inside their homes and use a telephone to call a neighbour to help.
Even with the African-American’s having their own side of town, the whites still owned and had better jobs then what is there is now. In 1912, African-American’s had jobs that forced them to work and listen to the white man, with hardly any pay and no rights in the workforce. They where servants, labourers, cooks, housekeepers, chauffer and worked on the train. They took the jobs that white people didn’t want and found it beneath them to do it.
The whites ran the town, having jobs that put them in political seats. They took charge of the pay, making sure the whites always made more then the African-American’s, and also took charge of the law in the town. The whites
got the fun jobs, the jobs that always paid more and kept them above everyone else. They became police officers, farmers, politicians, business people and business owners. Because of how everything was split up and how things where ran there was a lot of tension between whites and African-Americans.
Dick Prosser is a developing character in the story; Prosser is an African-American living in the Southern United States. As such, he is the object of racial discrimination. It is this constant discrimination and oppression that fuels a deep-rooted anger in Prosser and sets into motion a disturbing change in him that continues to progress throughout the short story, because the author uses foreshadowing. At the beginning of the story, Prosser is a very religious man who attends church several times a week and reads his Bible habitually. He is a tender-hearted man who likes to share much of his knowledge with the three white boys, one of which belongs to the family he serves. Prosser likes to show the boys how to box without actually sparring with them and teaches them how to play football as well as some basic survival skills. As the live-in help for the Shepperton’s, he is a well-informed and hard worker. This is clear throughout the novel, in addition to his maintenance duties; he also drives the family car and has the ability to read which is shown through his obsessive reading of the Bible. It is while reading his Bible that the first sign of his built up anger begins to show by his eyes turning red. Prosser comes out of his room with his eyes red, anger-fueled by his readings, and begins to preach to the three white boys in less than coherent phrases. The second time Prosser’s eyes turn red is demonstrated when Lon Everett sideswipes Mr. Shepperton’s car while Prosser is driving. Even though Everett is at fault, he proceeds to punch Prosser twice. Before the second swing, Prosser’s eyes become red again, but he holds himself back. The third time Prosser’s eyes become red he is once more at the mercy of white people. It occurs when the white boys find Prosser’s rifle in his room. When Prosser discovers them in his room without permission, he stands above them with small red eyes. Although the boys could reveal the crime in which Prosser was in for his illegal firearm, he manages to bribe the children with talk of taking them out after Christmas and teaching them to shoot. That same evening, a suspicious chain
of events brings about the third and final stage in Prosser’s change. With Prosser’s cat like reflex, he was able to sneak out without anyone noticing, to go see Pansy Harris. Or, at least that is what the town thought and then was proved later when the first chain of events started. Pansy Harris’s husband comes home to find Prosser in his home, but it wasn’t till a little time after that when a fight broke out. Pansy ran across the street to the only phone to call the police, but as she got back, Prosser killed her husband and locked them in the shack. What was first thought of revenge on a fellow black man has now escalated into a crime when Prosser shoots Sam Willis, a white man, when he kicked in the door to Pansy’s shack. Prosser then continues on his rampage, killing anyone who comes in his way, which happened to be a mob of white men. As if protecting himself, Prosser shot anyone who took a shot at him. Then, as if coming full circle, Prosser unlaces his shoes and stands soldier still, waiting for the men to open fire upon him, accepting his fate at this point.
The plot elements used in the story help make it literary fiction, because of the tension that leads to many conflicts in 1912. The conflict in The Child by Tiger is apparent because the author uses foreshadowing to almost prepare you for a problem to arise. The first dilemma that arises for the main character, Dick Prosser, is that he is caught by 3 white boys with an illegal firearm. In 1912 the African-American’s where not aloud to own a gun of any kind, but the boys promise not to tell anyone. Prosser then makes his way to Pansy Harris’s house but the visit ends with Prosser killing her husband. At first no one is upset because it was between two African-American’s but the minute Prosser killed Sam Willis, a white mob with dogs are sent after Prosser. Suspense is brought into the story, leaving you to wonder if Prosser will make it out alive.
No one remembered how good natured Prosser was, or how much of a good worker he was, the only thing the town could focus on was the fact that Prosser, a black man, had killed white people. Even though Prosser never acted violently, he still had a violent side that showed through his eyes. The Child by Tiger has a theme that is relevant to today’s society, we always judge before we hear the whole story. We chose to fight violence with
violence, in the story Hugh McNair was the only one who didn’t want to send a mob after Prosser. But because the crowd was much bigger than the person and because the crowd was fueled with anger and hatred, but mob was sent out before anyone could change their mind. We are the only species in the world that choices to fight violence with violence without a cause. Instead of giving Prosser a trial, the mob choice to kill him before questioning him. Sinful nature of mankind, to evil without limits, and without cause.