The Chaotic World


Top Dog Underdog is a play involving two American brothers, Lincoln and Booth striving for their survival. The play set to reflect the worldly chaos arising over the fight of work, poverty, gambling, racism and people trying to change their life for the better. Parks (2001) in top dog/underdog addresses how the chaotic world reflected. The analysis utilizes the contents in the play to depict the rationale the play depicts on the theme “the chaotic world”

Play Setting

Everybody has a role to play in the society, which involves a lot of thinking. The performance is tremendously vital in every work done by an individual. The top dog and the underdog are a “torture game “where the term “should be” based on the phenomenon of dissertation. The characters developed to show how they cope with worldly chaos surrounding them; the top dog is very brave and authoritative; while the underdog is defensive and apologetic meaning he has no authority. Top dog bully in a way that he works using “should” in making threat words like; “You will die, or you will not go to heaven”. Top dog is more superior to the underdog, and they all strive for control like a parent and a child were there is control of words. The arguments of top dog and the underdog are never complete because to all fight for their lives.

The chaotic world exhibited by Lincoln’s deceptive character on the guise of an honest Abe, and swindling ten dollars from a little rich kid in exchange of signing an autograph and deceiving the kid that he would bring him the change next time they meet in the bus. The events that define the plot demonstrate the chaotic world through Lincoln admission of the job he does by; “That job do not make me into any Lincoln I was Lincoln on my own before any of that." On the other side, Booth who is the younger brother lives a life of a petty thief who shoplifts anything he gets. This is evident by his statement, "Just because I ain’t good as you at cards don’t mean I can’t do anything".

The chaotic worlds that erupt communicated through Booth’s unquelled desire to be a master con in the three- card Monte game. The poor try to con their way to the richness through deceiving and game tricks. This game by Booth’s practice of playing the three-card Monte game and imagining that he has worn a large sum of money, bring out the dreams the poor face in the world imagining to be rich but still in the condition. The chaotic world is evident in Booth’s arguments with Lincoln and trying to convince him to come back to the con game, and they work as a team, telling him “ I am trying to create an economic opportunity” while Lincoln is against it and Booth says through his statement "you standing in my way, link!"

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Limited Choices in the Here and Now

In the recent past, if someone lost their job due to the economic depression that causes unemployment because their employer is experiencing losses in the business, would quickly think of crime as a way of survival in the harsh economic times. This portrays how limited choices and families play an integral role in responses to life issues. The chaotic world is evident in the three- card con business that the two brothers engage. Lincoln, before lived that street hustler life and after witnessing his friend (Lonny) killed after violence had erupted; the chaos of violence in the society. He opts to get an honest, less dangerous and a salaried job. Lincoln seems to like his new job as he calls it “easy work” where he allows his mind to wander and relax.

Portraying the Underdog

The play portrays a notion that the society is a dog-eat-dog universe where people hustle to realize their life dreams in the realm of this one is either a “top dog” or “an underdog” which propels one to live a life full of chaos. The chaotic world communicated by the lifestyle Booth tries to live to upgrade his status to a “top dog”. He lives the life of a petty thief demonstrated by him shoplifting suits and clothes from a departmental store and boasting about it as he seems contented with that life by genuinely stating to Lincoln "I stole and I stole generously”.

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The chaotic world seen when Booth’s imagines of getting a large sum of money by playing the three cards Monte and viewing the game as an economic opportunity. Booth’s underdog character is portrayed as living in chaos in regard to his views about life. He projects prosperity as a source of pulling many women to him. He is also contented with the room’s lack of amenities as he sees nothing wrong with it. He also doesn’t bother about the price cuts that Lincoln tells him that are being offered "Don’t sweat it man, we'll find something else". The chaotic world is depicted by Booth resorting to violence to individuals who go against him as he did when he stood up by Grace and killed Lincoln for hustling him.


The events and the chaos are documented to tell the story of Lincoln and Booth, they struggle for their new life to overcome poverty and dramatizes how race of the two brothers is a contradiction of their dreams as a possible life and the reality in which their realization offers them a gamble. Trapped in poverty, their family background and “joke names” given to them by their father, the chaotic world is portrayed when the two brothers realize they are involved in a highly dangerous game of deception, fighting to know whom the player is and who is played.

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