What is a familiar? The simple answer is that it is an animal used and controlled by a person using magic. As I read The Familiar I made a connection between the similarities between a familiar and a video game avatar. The fact that Anwar is a video game engine designer made this connection stand out in the text. Magic is a key element of this description. With greater familiarity with the familiar the stronger the magic binds the person to the animal. But there is one aspect of the person/familiar relationship that I haven’t mentioned: familiars were meant to be sacrificed.
The familiar/avatar connection also connects to sacrifice. How many lives do you get in a video game? And as a writer I know that the reason for creating many characters is so that you can kill them off. I’m really curious if Daneilewski created the character of Anwar as an analog for himself.