There Is No Dog
by Meg Rosoff
Type of Being
We don't get to pull this one out often, so we're kind of excited.
Basically, there are two main types of beings in this novel: Gods and humans. The Gods are a bunch of shady characters. We don't know too much about most of them, but we know that they're dangerous and not always on top of their jobs.
Not only that, but the specific kind of shape that they take in God-mode can tell us a bit about them, like here:
Hed's eyes darken. Black smoke rolls off him in stinking waves. "A deal," he rumbles in a voice deep as death, "is a deal." Estelle does not flinch. Her father's presence becomes a devastating absence, a malignant Hed-shaped void sucking all light and heat into its core. But his daughter is unfazed. Everywhere Hed looks he meets her gaze. (10.41)
So, in God-mode, Hed becomes an angry black hole. Yep, that fits with what we know about him being the meanest guy around. And Estelle, in God-mode, becomes basically a giant eyeball. Since she's described as being intelligent and observant, that makes total sense.
Okay, let's back away from giant flaming eyeballs and bad-tempered black holes to look at the humans. As far as type of being goes, humans definitely lost out. We're weak, subject to the whims of the gods, and not even smart enough to tell when we're dealing with a supernatural force. The one thing we've got going for us?
Um, sorry. We got nothin'.
Normally we'd want you to stay away from stereotypes, but when it comes to this book, feel free! Rosoff draws on character stereotypes to outfit the characters in this novel, so their clothing matches their personality perfectly.
Think about Mr. B. He's a serious old fuddy-duddy isn't he? So it's not surprising to see him in "a dusty waxed-canvas raincoat, [tugging] on a pair of wellies and [flipping] the Victorian-style collar up over his ears" (34.5). But these clothes don't just show how old-fashioned he is; they even emphasize how insignificant he feels as Bob's assistant: "The stiff coat creaked round him like a tent, its folds rendering him smaller and less significant, even, than usual" (34.5).
Holy clothing characterization, Batman!
Wellies are the most traditional of British rain shoes, Victorian collars are pretty much the definition of old school, and we're thinking trench coat for the waxed coat. Old-fashioned, rule-abiding, stodgy Mr. B: you have to love him.
But Mr. B isn't the only one stuck in boring clothes, lets look at Laura. Here are the things that she wears: "tidy patent-leather shoes," "her sensible tweed skirt," and "expensive tweeds and cashmere cardigans in useful colors" (21.42,7.16). Sounds a little like what Kate Middleton has to wear when she when she wants to look quiet and demure, right?
If you're not convinced yet, look at the adjectives the narrator uses: "tidy," "sensible," "expensive." What does that say to you? She's rich, proper, and demure. Not too flashy, not too wild. She's a "proper lady." (Whatever that means.)
Speech and Dialogue
Admit it: you judge people by the way they talk. (And you're not always wrong to.) The way a person talks can signal a lot, and the same goes for characters in There Is No Dog. Quick, guess who this is: "'My father has given him a reprieve,' she told Bob. 'A short one, unfortunately. Those of us with an interest will naturally involve ourselves in helping him. I trust you will treat him well in the meantime" (12.12).
No doubt there: it's Estelle. You can tell because of the formal, old-fashioned, dictatorial, but still polite language that she uses. The same words that we just used to describe her speech seem to be the same words that you could use to describe her personality.
On the other hand, here is Bob's answer to her: "Well, it's about time you made it home. Who's the girl? Bring me my toast. I'm starving" (12.14).
Rude, sloppy, and selfish? That's our Bob.
Or, take Skype. Poor Skype—we mean, really. Look at this, "I really hope you can? Aren't you going to, like, offer me a cup of tea? … You're not a morning person, are you? That's OK. I'll make the tea.'" (25.4) What kind of personality do you think that Skype has? (Hint: an annoying one.)