Dog and/or cat?

Hi everyone, really enjoyed our discussion earlier, I’ve found a few things that pertain to what we talked about regarding whether the Ibrahims get a cat or a dog.
These two articles date from 2011, and they both mention that The Familiar will be about a “12 year old girl who finds a kitten.”

Then again, maybe Danielewski changed his mind in the meantime. Or perhaps they get a dog, but happen to also find a cat? Considering the book contains elements of the supernatural, is it possible that the animal could actually be some sort of nightmarish cat/dog combination (Though probably a bit more terrifying than that ‘CatDog’ cartoon that some of you might have watched when you were younger)? At the moment, the combination idea is what I’m leaning towards, especially because I just re-read the blurb and it says “At the very heart, though, is a 12-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous…”

It’s also a bit confusing, because the Guardian article that says the above comment is what he said to an interviewer, but if you click on the link with the quote it takes you here, to a post on an unrelated website, which is about House of Leaves and (funnily enough) its alleged publication on that particular site.

What do you guys think?


4 responses to “Dog and/or cat?”

  1. kasey says :

    So I think the dog was/is a foil, perhaps a necessary plot device to support/augment Xanther’s epilepsy. But I also think, given MZD’s love of cats, that the dog symbolizes more, it symbolizes our desire to control and to be rewarded – dogs are easily controlled and notorious for giving back unconditional “love” to their owners. They are the epitome of the sycophantic pet. Whereas the cat demands and seeks your involvement, the cat imposes its will upon you – one of many ways in which cats and dogs are at odds with one another. The cat in TFF will exhibit these traits, simultaneously showing fragility and power, as cats can do. They brush up against you, seemingly loving and seeking affection from you, only we now know they are simply marking you as their possession.

    As far as TFv1 is concerned, we know they do not get a dog. And I imagine it stays that way, given Xanther’s attachment to the cat, and the apparent lack of funds to buy the $20k dog.

    I would wager that the combination theory is a dead end, but that going forward, TF will be wholly cat-centric. It feeds into every aspect of the book: nine lives, uncanny ability to survive, extra-sensory abilities, the GPS codes (see the one in Belgium), and all the references to cats/tigers in parables 8 and 9, never mind House of Leaves (which is heavily referenced in TFv1).

  2. bookknight101 says :

    It might just be me, but with the multiple references to Blade Runner and Philip K Dick, the whole ‘we’re getting a pet’ reminded me very strongly of Rick Deckard, Dick’s protagonist, and his desire for a REAL animal (as opposed to his disappointing, broken electrical sheep) and his belief that this will give his life meaning is similar to how Xanther’s parents are banking on a pet helping their daughter.

    Also, as the title is just The Familiar, might it not be just as much a reference to that which is well known and comforting as much as it evoke the magical/witch-associated spiritual familiar (ie call to mind animals)?

  3. melindaborchers says :

    Having only read the first 200 pages, I believe that the quest for a dog will be the plot device, the original plan, if you will. However, something will go wrong and instead of getting a dog, Xanther will encounter/rescue a pet that she is capable of connecting with, a kitten, probably an abandoned stray.

  4. cchen93 says :

    I think the set up of the family getting a dog really highlights Astair’s desire for someone or something to take care of her. With an epileptic child, money issues, and academics filling up her time, Astair wanting a dog for Xanther seems to be a cover for wanting a dog for herself. She admits that “a dog would get her out of the house… [and] out of her head” (442). She is constantly filled with worry about so many things that a dog may serve as a distraction and something that gives her loving attention without worry. For $20,000 Anwar and Astair could have spent that money in so many other ways and even though they do not end up getting a dog, the fact that Astair was so committed to spending $20,000 on an Akita further highlights that the idea of the dog was more for her and not Xanther. Xanther initially has no idea about the Akita since it was supposed to be a $20,000 surprise.

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