The Weimaraner Dogs/The Hunting Party
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
It’s the intelligent, childlike eyes that stare at Milkman from the Butler mansion windows such that Milkman thinks there are actual children inside that totally creeps us out. These dogs are disgusting in their proliferation, but they are also well groomed. The fact that they have such human eyes makes us think that (in a world where Circe is impossibly alive) they were once humans or absorbed the spirits of humans. They are Circe’s revenge, destroying the wealth and property that the Butlers killed for.
Weimaraners are hunting dogs by nature, originally trained to hunt big, scary things like bears. When they are unconfined and left to roam, they will destroy niceties like furniture and wallpaper. Their presence heightens Circe’s mythological status and also intensifies the dreamlike nature of Milkman’s encounter with her. They are both extremely loyal to Circe and extremely destructive of their surroundings. Once domestic hunting dogs owned by the Butlers, they now roam free and have developed wild ways.
The fact that Weimaraners are hunters by nature resonates with the hunt that takes place in Shalimar. Suddenly we see hunting everywhere, especially when we realize that it’s not only bears and bobcats that are hunted, but humans too. For example, when little Macon is waiting outside of the cave for his sister after they discover the gold, he hears a search party in the distance, and knows they are hunting him. Guitar tells the story of the grief he felt having killed a doe while hunting as a little boy. And then we see the anxiety of the barbershop congregants after a white schoolboy is killed, knowing the police are hunting for anyone who vaguely fits the description of the killer. Milkman is the most hunted of all, pursued by both Hagar and Guitar.
Everyone seems to be pursuing someone or something in this novel, and when the bobcat is successfully cornered, shot down from its tree, and killed, we know in our gut that something similar is going to happen to a person.