Robert Begins to Hate "Bingy"

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University

Saro-Wiwa's "Robert and the Dog" conveys the poverty of the mass of Nigerians by the powerful device of Bingo, the dog of Robert's European wife.

Try as hard as he could, he could not dismiss from his mind the fact that the dog was doing better than himself. And he detested this state of affairs. He could understand a dog being invited to eat up an infant's faeces. He could understand a stray, mangy dog with flies around its ears being beaten and chased away from the dwellings of men. He could understand a dog wandering around rubbish heaps in search of sustenance. But a dog who slept on the settee, a dog who was fed tinned food on a plate, a dog who was brushed and cleaned, a dog who drank good tinned milk, was entirely beyond his comprehension. On one occasion, the lady took the dog to a doctor. And that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

All that day, Robert felt his stomach turn. And when he got home in the evening and saw his children with distended stomachs gambolling in the filth which simmered in a swollen stream at his door, and watched them hungrily swallow small balls of "eba," he asked himself, "Who born dog?" And all of a sudden he developed a pathological hatred for Bingo the dog, his master's dog. All night long, he saw in the eye of his mind, the dog cuddled in the warmth of the settee which he would have to clean and brush in the morning. And he asked himself again and again "Who born dog?" ["Robert and the Dog," A Forest of Flowers, 107]

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