Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Essay on Dog

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“He takes himself very seriously when he’s got his pack on. He won’t step off the trail for any reason, not even to chase rabbits, and he gets nervous and angry if I do (Houston 186).” A stereotypical male, takes his job very serious and feels insecure when his woman goes chasing bunnies. When building the snow cave Jackson does all the work because the narrator doesn’t know exactly what needs to be done. Jackson is “the super metabolizer,” he is strong and resilient to the harsh conditions that eh is exposed to. A very important role is played by Jackson, which will be addressed later.

Hailey, contradictory to Jackson, is a stereotypical female, insecure, shy and always behind the male. Unlike Jackson, Hailey is not described in great detail, in a way her character is overshadowed by Jackson. The narrator describes Hailey as “not so graceful, and her body seems in constant indecision when she runs (Houston 185).” Hailey is the yang to Jackson’s yin (Houston 185). Why are they characterized as yin and yang, which are opposites, yin being positive and yang negative? Hailey, the female, is the negative, this is a feminist view which will be looked at later.

The time in which the story takes place is February, the month of love. The narrator clearly states “a man I’d given my heart to weekending in the desert with his ex” as the source of her depression. The narrator finds herself around valentines with no one to be with, so she becomes depressed. Her desire for a significant other becomes evident in the way in which she interacts with her two dogs. This is what caught my eye in the story. Being one with an interest in animal behavior and how human interact with them, I often find myself speaking with my pets. It is normal, all people do it, it is a remnant behavior of our more primal days, when we had a closer connection with the natural world. The narrator however, carries her broken heart into the interaction. All the accounts of conversation between the narrator and her two dogs are with Jackson, except for one with Hailey. Jackson talks back to the author in direct quotation, Hailey is never directly quoted. When Jackson speaks his words are that of motivation, “Ski harder, go faster, climb higher.” pushing the narrator to go harder and farther. Hailey only sits and groans in protest (Houston 186). The narrator addresses Jackson throughout the first part of the story until the climax. Thereafter, it is Hailey who the narrator converses with, be it only one time. Therefore, it can be deciphered that the climax changed the narrator’s fixation, from the male (her ex) to the female (herself). The climax is when she faces a life and death situation. In many literary works the event of a near death experience causes an enlightenment in the character that experiences it. In this story it is no different, the narrator was enlightened to the fact that her troubles were minor and insignificant. Once she came to realization, she was then able to see out of her “glass house” so to speak.

The use of imagery and allusions to portrait the underlying themes is well performed by Houston. In reference to Superman’s vision she says “In the cold thin morning air the trees and mountains, even the twigs and shadows, seemed to leap out of the background like a 3-D movie, only it was better than 3-D because I could feel the sharpness of the air (Houston 186).” This indicates that she is able to see things in a new perspective. Also it shows that she has begun her transformation of the state of mind that she is in. The allusion of the “house of mirrors” and Moby Dick

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