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Child By Tiger

The need for acceptance emerges in many sectors. In the work place and places of recreation, people feel stable when others accept and affirm them. Sometimes, however, this search for significance leads people to a point where they presume no one cares. Dick Prosser, likewise, feels this same outcasted fate. Because his skin color and lifestyle conflict, Dick never feels complete allegiance to either the black or the white race. Dick lives as a white man, but his skin color marks him as lower than the whites; consequently, Dick wanes somewhere in-between. Finally realizing his vain plea for acceptance, Dick views killing as his last feeble attempt to gain respect. Unfortunate for Dick, his last desperate plan ends with his "riddled carcass" (Pg. 37) hanging from a tree. In the short story "The Child by Tiger," Thomas Wolfe uses Dick Prosser's situations and lifestyles to enforce his belief that Dick's outburst of slayings stem from an unresolved search for acceptance among the whites, blacks, and even God. The white race takes advantage of Dick's abilities; however, they cannot accept him as one of their own because pre-set stereotypes inhibit inter-racial relationships. Mr. Sheppardton proclaims, "That Dick was the best man he'd ever had, the smartest darky that he'd ever known." (Pg. 26) But even "the smartest darky" cannot partake in the white man's world. This truth evidences itself regarding church attendance. The chauffeur of the Sheppardton family, Dick must "come up to the side door of the church while the service [is] going onand stand there humbly and listen during the course of the entire sermon." (Pg. 27) Dick is not allowed to even enter the church proudly and listen to the service; he has to stand outside and experience the sermon from a distance, symbolizing his seclusion from the white race. Not only is Dick unable to enter the church; he must also respect the white race when placed in...

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