17 October 2012
The Characterization of Dick Prosser
People are viewed committing good, kind, and helpful act towards other human beings, while others are committing senseless acts of evil. People learn the difference between right, and wrong early on in life, which means knowing the consequences of actions taken. In the short story “The Child by Tiger”, Thomas Wolfe does a great job of showing how a man can go from good to evil, and calm to violent when provoked. The characterization of Dick Prosser shows how a man described as gentle, and quiet by many, turns violent.
Prosser, a respected man; is admired by the children. Prosser, a religious man, keeps a torn bible on a small table in his room. The Sheppertons were delighted to have him as a servant. “He could cook, he could tend the furnance, he knew how to drive a car-in fact, it seemed to us boys that there was very little that Dick Prosser could not do” (Wolfe 25). Prosser could shoot a rifle with precise aim, due to his previous army training; for example, he used Randy’s rifle to show his shooting skills. Prosser always had time for the children; he showed them how to build a fire by piling up the kindle in order for the flames to shoot out the correct way. In the children’s eye, Prosser could do no wrong. He gave the children a good feeling by the way he addressed them. “He called all of us “Mister” except Randy, and Randy was always “Cap’n”-“Cap’n Shepperton.” “This formal address-“Mr.” Crane, “Mr.” potterham, “Mr.” Spangler, “Cap’n” shepperton-pleased us immensely, gave us a feeling of mature importance and authority” (Wolfe24). The children describe him as a powerful, respectable, looking Negro in his thirties.
Prosser, an ex-military man, through his actions is well respected, good with children and liked by many. He taught the children to throw a football the correct way. Although he watched the children box and gave them pointers, he did not engage in the exercise with them. Even though Prosser was unable to attend church services, he listened outside the doors as the Sheppertons worshiped. “He was deeply religious and went to church three times a week, and He read his Bible every night” (26). Prosser has the respect of the Sheppertons, the children and some of the town’s people. “Mr Shepperton himself declared that dick was the best man he’d ever had, the smartest darky that he’d ever known” (26). Prosser, the teacher, is tender and watchful when it comes to the children. For example, he taught the children to lead, to hook, to counter, and block, but was also careful not to let them hurt each other. However, in an instant, Prosser, the children once knew would not be the same again. Due to an altercation with a drunken man in town, and a love affair with a servant, Prosser will change. Prosser goes onto to kill many men without thinking about it. Prosser will kill one man because he looked out, and others because they crossed his