Cats and Dogs

Just a quick post regarding the Luther and Xanther texts. My history might be a bit rusty here, but I noticed Luther seems to come from a primarily Mexican background whereas Xanther’s father, Anwar, is revealed to be of Egyptian descent. Luther owns various dogs and in the end (spoilers, I guess?) Xanther comes into possession of a dying baby cat. From what I recall, Aztecs used to revere the dog breed Xoloitzcuintli (which is mentioned in the text) and would bury their dead with these dogs to help guide their souls to the afterlife. I’m not knowledgeable of Egyptian culture at all, but I do know cats were regarded with similar honors by ancient Egyptian civilizations (perhaps someone could help me with how exactly this was done). Xanther was originally going to get a dog, but the cat interfered in what was seemingly going to be an idyllic turnaround for her family (particularly Astair’s) life. The cat in this sense is a bringer of chaos. In the same way, Luther at some point thought of letting Hopi take care of his dogs, but ended up killing him (the death that we so anticipated in his narrative). Is there something to be done with the way animals deeply attached to cultural roots of these characters seem to also be harbingers of chaos?

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3 responses to “Cats and Dogs”

  1. mconthe127 says :

    I hadn’t really thought about the relation to the animals and the cultural ties they have with the characters associated with them until this post. I think that the animals are definitely a reflection of their cultural roots, but I think ultimately, the chaos could be stemmed from not just the animals, but the culture itself. I really appreciate this post because it got me to dig deeper on why some of the conflicts came to be in various story lines. This seems really relevant in Shnorkh’s storyline in particular. We watch as his cultural difference and ethnicity continuously play against him in the court room and in his life in LA. Similar to the way the dying cat brought chaos to Anwar’s life, Shnorkh’s language barrier and inability to demand respect brought chaos to his life.

  2. danielpopek says :

    The idea that the animal’s tie into these characters cultures is an interesting one, and although I’m not convinced it can offer any foreshadowing of events to come, I feel confident in thinking there is a fair amount of significance behind this choice on Danielewski’s part. Also, in promoting the book, he has referred to it as the story of a girl and her cat– we are finally introduced to a cat in it’s physical incarnation, but all along I have been feeling like there may be a tie in to the fact that the story revolves around nine lives (Cas, Anwar, etc) and popular cat mythos tell us that cats have nine lives. Just something I found intriguing.

  3. jasongomez1 says :

    That’s an interesting insight. And I agree with what you’re saying. Danielewsky hasn’t included any cliché symbolism (at least as far as I can tell) except for the animals. And they do appear to bring chaos. Every character may interpret the animals differently because of their cultural background. As a quick illustration—a widely held superstition in the United States is to avoid a black cat crossing your path out of fear of bad luck; whereas a black cat in Japan may be regarded as good fortune. But so far the animals appear to only indicate misfortune.
    Another quick thing I observed was whether the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” can in some way relate to the title One Rainy Day in May or even Xanther’s raindrop theme.

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