The Baddest Dog in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers Essay

The Baddest Dog in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers Essay

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The fictional short story “The Baddest Dog in Harlem” is written by the African-American writer Walter Dean Myers, and is part of his collection “145th Street”, which was published in 2001. Drawing from his own experiences growing up in Harlem, Myers have often written about the challenging realities that face today's urban youth. The fictional story could easily have been a real story from the ghetto district. The composition is constructed chronologically and takes place at 145th Street in Harlem, a very poor and highly populated area with slums, gangs, crimes and a high rate of unemployment. When the story is set, is not mentioned in the text. Although the story is completely up-to-date, I am convinced that the setting takes place in the 70’s, where both Muhammad Ali and Roberti Duran had their golden days.

First of all, we meet the narrator and his friends, who are sitting around the trail outside of Big Joe’s place, trying to figure out which is the best fighter of all time. Willie Murphy gets everybody mad; he is the kind of guy who thinks that just because he is old it means that he is cleverer than anybody. The debate continues as Mr. Lynch joins the conversation and nominates the grand old champion Jack Johnson. Additionally, we meet Pedro and Tommy, but in general, we do not get much information about the narrators friends, which is quite typical for a short story. The narrator, whose name remains unknown, is a young black man, probably about 20-25 years old. The short story is told in first person narrative by the unnamed main character, which makes it even more interesting and empathetic.

All of a sudden, two police cars pull up right in front of the blokes to interrogate them. The c...

... middle of paper ...

...ppression of a race

Bruce Springsteen’s song American Skin (41 Shots) was recorded and released in 2001 and is a sarcastic comment on the fatal shooting of Amadou Bailo Diallo in 1999. Amadou was a 23-year-old immigrant and was shot and killed (with 41 shots) by the cops.
The song is obvious in relation to the short story. As long we have weapons on earth, there will never be justice. The line “You can get killed just for living in your American skin” outlines the message – unfortunately, but truly.
As Lena gets her son ready for school, she says “On these streets, Charles, you have got to understand the rules” and continues “promise me that you will always be polite”. Even if you stick to these rules, you cannot necessarily be safe – just like the 145th Street in Harlem. You never know what is going to happen – you have to take care and be aware!

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