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Fifteen Dogs (Quincunx, #2)
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Fifteen Dogs > Question #6: Lessons

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 26, 2016 10:12AM) (new)

Fifteen Dogs takes the literary form of an “apologue,” which is meant to be a moral fable, where animals are often the main characters. What lessons do you think Alexis is trying to convey in Fifteen Dogs? Did the choice of dogs help convey these lessons?


Susan | 130 comments I found this book overwhelmingly depressing - unlike other readers who had different opinions. I took no lesson from the author other than the callousness with which most of of us treat each other. There is one good human /dog relationship and one good dog/dog relationship but overall, the dogs portrayed a terrible picture of humanity. Is this really how we are?


Eric | 16 comments Susan wrote: "I found this book overwhelmingly depressing - unlike other readers who had different opinions. I took no lesson from the author other than the callousness with which most of of us treat each other...."

I'm going to have to agree with Susan in that there really wasn't any positive lessons to learn from this - it was more of a cautionary tale of what could happen if we let things go too far. I would like to think that we aren't like this. The dogs were given some human qualities but they were still very much dogs. I wonder if there would have been a stronger message if the dogs were able to get increased emotional intelligence?


message 4: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I agree with Eric, that this is a cautionary tale. Like Susan, I found the book to be depressing. With the horrific things happening in the news over the last couple of months, humanity does often seem terrible. I don't think the dogs did anything worse than what humans do to one another on a daily basis.

By choosing dogs to tell his story, I think Alexis asks us to step back and examine ourselves in a way we might not otherwise. Are we happier because of our higher functions? The answer is sometimes no.


message 5: by Ashley (last edited Jul 27, 2016 03:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ashley | 116 comments Mod
I made allusions to Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm, earlier, because they have what I perceive to be similar themes and messages about power and corruption, and in both stories, the authors use stand-ins for adults to magnify the value and importance of how we act. William Golding used children, who we would usually consider vulnerable and inexperienced, while Alexis used dogs, again vulnerable and limited in capacities. Both authors demonstrate how violent, abusive, and manipulative people can become with power. Both the children and dogs break off into tribes or packs, a leader emerges, and violence ensues. The classic warning tale of "absolute power corrupts, absolutely."

For me, none of that was particularly surprising. The lasting impressions for me were actually the triumph of spirit, and importance of relationships. This is probably why so many of us connected with Nira and Majnoun, or Prince. Because their stories remind us how strong we are: how we can persevere, find beauty, and love, in the face of hardship and great change.


message 6: by Jenniferria (last edited Jul 27, 2016 04:12PM) (new)

Jenniferria | 14 comments We haven't touched much on the part of the gods in this story. The dogs only behaved as they did because the gods interfered with the normal way of things. I'm reminded of the classic Spider-man warning, with great power comes great responsibility.

The gods saw they could perform an "experiment" for their own entertainment/ knowledge and went ahead with it, not thinking about the consequences to those they messed with. We do this as humans all the time with Animal testing, putting animals in zoos, etc. We see this sometimes with children in the way we parent, direct them.

It is hard to maintain perspective when you have always had so much "power" and it just seems like the natural order of things. I agree with the previous comments that the author is asking us to take a look at how we treat those in "lesser" positions, and consider how our actions, even if not intentional, can be harmful.

Also, did anyone think about why the author chose dogs specifically? I can't help but think there's a connection that dog is god spelled backward...hmmmmm.


Sylvia Valevicius | 81 comments I read this book early May-it was a library 'fast lane' one. Sorry, I did not have too much time to get involved with the discussions here ( putting out my new book -crazy times!) but if anyone is interested, I left a 'review' on Goodreads. It is short because I found the writing well-done, but the theme/ plot unbearably depressing. I looked into some of your comments here, and see that many of you feel the same way. Love our animals -too sad to take any joy in this novel -cool gods notwithstanding!


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