Beautiful Joe has such low self-esteem, and I wonder what the child reader made/makes of that? The young reader especially is supposed to pick up on the unfair treatment of animals at the same time inhabit the animal’s physical and mental spaces…How would a human child caring for a broken dog better better achieve this? … “Get them to do something for somebody outside themselves…” (though Mrs. Morris, for all her goodness, still calls animals “dumb creatures”…Could the story that Mrs. Morris tells Mrs. Montague in chapter 5 been a better story…? Do humans see themselves better? At least for me, I was more interested when Mrs. Morris said, though patronizingly: “We are all brothers and sisters.”
“…naturally that some one should be inspired to write a book to interpret the life of a dog to the humane feeling of the world.” “speaks for the whole animal kingdom” “progressive system of education” “kindness to animals principles of growth of philanthropy..” there is a richness of ideas here expressed. Which one of these are still relevant to this day? Which books in the past 20 years best express these ideas?
I am really interested in “parallel ways in which literary text construct pet and child subjectivity” (p.24 in pdf-Intro/Feuerstein). How do we examine and assign value to those subjectivities? It would seem that a you’d need to study not alone child psychology and animal behavior, but also perform behavioral studies…? And can all this capture the “subversions.” What can we learn from these “subversions”?
In her piece, Roxanne Harde maintains the importance of maintaining the difference between animal and human and treat them as two separate yet interdependent categories so as to not diminish the value of either.She lauds Phelp’s refusal to collapse the animal with the human ‘other’ and her insistence on going against the feminist practice of seeking to attain “rights for both themselves and animals often identified with the non-human other“ While acknowledging her argument and Phelp’s indefatigable efforts to speak for alterity (in this case animal/ non-human ‘other’) without claiming alterity so as to avoid the pitfalls of ventriloquism, can animal autobiography (and also by extension children’s literature for the adult speak’s to by essentially speaking for the child), ever avoid the sin of ventriloquism?
Ruwanthi–ventriloquism is such a fascinating topic for both children’s literature and animal autobiography…looking forward to discussing that issue tonight…and I really like your characterization of Phelps as well…Harde gives us great tools to think with! CH
I love your questions, Jaïra, and it’s interesting you mention. this question of Joe’s”low self-esteem”…is this 19th century religiously inflected humility, or something else, maybe even something insidious? I can’t wait to consider that more. I was thinking about that issue a lot this week myself. so glad to hear it was on your mind too…and I like your question about more recent texts too…and how they pick up on some of the strands we see in Beautiful Joe….CH
Is this “humility” or low self-esteem some kind of post-traumatic reaction to the abuse he suffers? If so, it is really disturbing…