The Baddest Dog In Harlem, written by Walter Dean Meyers is a short story that takes place in Harlem, New York on 145th street. Here we meet the gang consisting of the narrator and protagonist of the story, which arguably could be the author himself as a teenager, on a rail outside Big Joe’s place, together with Willie Murphy who is in his thirties and the oldest member of the group. He is portrayed as a know it all, not to the liking of the group or the narrator himself. He could be construed as the self-proclaimed leader of the gang. There’s also Pedro who is a Hispanic, talkative member of the gang and Tommy of whom we don’t get much information about. There’s Mr. Lynch, an old man, viewed to be a thousand years old and in the words of the narrator, “washed dishes at The Last Supper”.
We meet Mrs. Davies who is franticly looking for her adult son Junior, who is a wino and works small jobs around the block.
Mamie and Flood works at the Eez-On-In soul food restaurant, that playes an important part of the story. Flood is the manager and a stickler for rules. Mamie is one of the employees, who is quite comfortable cracking jokes, in times of crisis.
Finally there’s Mary Brown, a smart woman with a good job downtown. It’s her apartment that gets shot up and looses her beloved dog in the shooting, prepared to sue the city and demands compensation for the damages, made by the shooting. She is very uncomfortable around Caucasian police officers. The reader is led to believe that she has bad experiences or trust issues, when it comes to Caucasian police officers.
The language of the story is the language of a young African American Walter Dean, from Harlem. The story is told in a manor, as if he was casually telling the reader the story himself.
It’s taking place on a poor street in Harlem near an apartment building, Joe’s place and the soul food restaurant Eez-on-In.