What “Familiar” Means
So with this book being called The Familiar and every time the word is mentioned it is written in a different color, we can suspect by now that it is a word we need to pay attention to, but why? What does Danielewski want the reader to know by doing this? Of course I can’t simply call him up on the phone and ask, so I did the next best thing: googled the definition of “Familiar.”
1. Adjective- meaning well known from long or close association
2. Noun- meaning a demon supposedly attending and obeying a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal
After doing my research, I came up with the hypothesis that at some points of the book (Pg 135) Danielewski uses “familiar” in the sense of the first definition, but for the most part uses it in the sense of the second definition. For example, Tian Li is known for her mystical healing powers and she is always accompanied by her white cat, though there is no direct evidence claiming the connection between them, JingJing hints at it through his narration, saying he will never search Tian Li’s room for her money if the cat is home because he feels as if it will tell his aunt. Yet, when Xanther runs to find the kitten in the rain instead of it adding a demon-like presence into her life, it seemed to finally allow Xanther to have some serenity instead.
So there are some parts of the plot that does not necessarily allow my idea to make complete sense, but I do think it is important for the reader to know the two different definitions of “familiar” in order to try and understand the message Danielewski is trying the communicate.