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Ray the Rottweiler

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Ray the Rottweiler

“They tell stories about him in the pub… Son of a millionaire-film-star-celebrity with an Aston Martin and all. Family keep him all the way out here. Well, you would do, wouldn’t you?”

This quotation goes to the core of Alice Jolly’s short story “Ray the Rottweiler” from 2015 as it centres around the of social exclusion. This short seems to be post-modernistic, as well as realistic. The short story is realistic because it takes place in an already existing geographical setting with believable events. The story presents a current issue in the world, which not only affects individuals but minority groups as well. It’s hard to understand why people would ruin a person’s life, for no other reason than gossip. Alice Jolly (b. 1966) is an award-winning author from Britain. She writes novels, short stories, and dramas. She teaches creative writing at Oxford University. The short story "Ray the Rottweiler" has been honoured with a prize from the Royal Society of Literature.

The characters featured in the short story “Ray the Rottweiler” are Tess, Ray, Josh, Adam, a few police officers and random characters in the local community. Tess appears to be the main character in this story because the story is told from her point of view. Tess is also this story’s narrator, and the story inevitably revolves around her. We are informed that Tess is married to a man named Adam and has a son named Josh. Josh has eczema and was therefore bullied at his former town. (l. 54-57): “He’s got eczema… School didn’t really work out… the thing is he was only just four and really he was too little and the other kids. Well.” This is also the reason Tess and her family moved away from Worcester to Black Covert Cottage. (l. 49-50) “We used to live in Worcester, I tell him. But we – that’s me and my husband Adam –neither of us liked the city and so we came here.” The reason they disliked the city was because of the bullying and it left them with no choice but to move.

The relationship between Tess and Ray is the main part of the story. It starts with Tess heading over to Ray out of obligation since he is their only neighbour, but as she gets closer she begins to doubt herself. (l. 16-18) “…Ray the Rottweiler, three fields away and down a track, is our only neighbour. So I felt I ought to try. But now that I’m getting closer I’m beginning to wonder.” She meets Ray and describes him as “narrow and frail… with the body of a teenager” She quickly opens up to Ray, albeit she doesn’t know why. Most likely because Ray reminds her of Josh. They are after all both outcast of society because of prejudice.

As mentioned before the main theme of this short story is social exclusion based on gossip and prejudice. (l. 86-87) “He’s on the side of the pub blokes. I mean, we all like dogs. Course. But there’s just too many of them. Far too many.” They judge him without knowing the full story. They say he mistreats animals and has been convicted of animal cruelty by the police, even though he takes care of the dogs since they have nowhere else to go. Because no one but Ray would take care of them. Which is hypocritical, since they themselves would never go so far to help animals and, yet they call him an animal abuser. And at the end the police have the dogs killed, showing no remorse. Tess is here to show that sympathy is still attainable for the minorities and outcasts of society, even though they are rejected by the majority.

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