The Familiar and Disgrace: Mutually Beneficial Relationship with Animals
Lucy cares deeply for animals and believes that humans should be compassionate towards them because humans and animals go through life together. Lucy says she wants, “to share some of our human privilege with the beasts” (Coetzee 74). When Lucy is attacked, rather than examine or worry over the damage to her house and possessions, she worries about the dogs she boards. When she sees that they have been killed, except for Katy and one who is fatally wounded, she cries, “My darlings, my darlings!” (Coetzee 97). She immediately goes to comfort the wounded dog, rather than allow David to try to comfort her. The dogs obviously mean more than just a way to earn a living.
Xanther also cares deeply for animals and has the ability to empathizes with them. At one point she even names and pets a spider (Danielewski 735). When Xanther rescues the kitten, she runs through traffic in the rain without concern for herself. She gets really banged up rescuing the cat, but insists that Anwar look after the cat first. She also gives the cat CPR and brings it back to life. Then, she makes Anwar go to the vet first, before going to the hospital for her own wounds (Danielewski 824). All of her attention is focused on the health and comfort of the cat.
Lucy and Xanther’s ability to prioritize animals first not only helps the animals but helps Lucy and Xanther too. Lucy can focus on helping the wounded dog rather than allow herself to succumb to shock and inaction. Xanther is given the chance to save a life, which is something she couldn’t do for Dov. While their compassion for animals does not have ulterior motives, assisting animals nonetheless helps them cope with their own emotional trauma.