Feuerstein and Nolte-Odhiambo write: “‘Pethood’ here serves as the analogous term to ‘child-hood,’ a similarly constructed social space that points to specific hierarchical relationships” (4). I was trying to understand the relationship between childhood and pethood and thus wondered: Can pethood and childhood be deemed analogous, though? Children and pets have their own subjectivity, articulated very differently. Not to mention that children are still “classified as part of the human world,” while pets belong to the nonhuman, and how pets are used as a tool for children to learn socialization and hence the differences in power between them. Would it be helpful to think that their relationship is more dialogic ((is this the right word?) that both children and animals struggle for their own meaning/subjectivity) rather than an equation?
Before reading the book, I was expecting a story that is more or less exclusively about the life of Beautiful Joe. However, we get many pages of stories about the treatment of other animals. I’m thus curious why Saunders has chosen such a particular way to tell the story. The Introduction mentions the many “manipulations” Saunders has included in the novel to access international markets. However, assuming that the audience might find the narrative a bit too longwinded, I wondered why the story itself is not condensed in a way to cater to its international audience.
We see that Black Beauty can “communicate” with other animals in Sewell’s book. Yet there seems to be no dialogue between Joe and other animals (except Bella and Dandy). What can we make of this? Is the lack of narration by animals to each other supposed to highlight Joe’s subjectivity as a speaking nonhuman subject? Yet doesn’t this break up the sense of animal solidarity that we see in Black Beauty?