There Is No Dog
by Meg Rosoff
Even though she is the most important female character in There Is No Dog (well, arguably), we don't know much about Lucy. We know she's pretty, she's a virgin, and that she likes animals. That's not much to go on. Like, guess who else meets those criteria? Snow White. So let's find out what makes her a little different from a Disney Princess.
Ain't She Purty?
This is nine-tenths of what we know about Lucy. (Okay, so far, not so much different from your average Disney Princess.) She is pretty, gorgeous, the most beautiful girl in the world. There are more than enough scenes where her glorious beauty is described, so we'll leave you to flip open a page and stumble across them, but here's one to start you off:
"Lucy was the sort of generous-breasted creamy-skinned hourglass-figured young woman worshipped by artists and lovers from an earlier era, when words like Rubenesque expressed a pure admiration of rose-tinted faces poised serenely above monumental breasts, rippled thighs and dimpled buttocks; bodies that looked most alluring when dressed in nothing but a large gilt frame. With her small ankles and her pale gold hair, Lucy was a creature designed for an earlier sensibility, her shape unfashionable, perhaps, but gorgeous." (7.12)
What's important about Lucy's beauty is that it's not modern. It's old-school. She's more Marilyn Monroe than Keira Knightley, but more Rubenesque than either. Since Bob is a really, really old teenager, it would make sense that his aesthetics would lean towards old standards of beauty.
(It's also a way of trying to explain why Lucy has gotten to be 21 without every having a boyfriend, but we're pretty sure that the most beautiful girl in the world would have gotten discovered by Hollywood at some point, whether she had dimpled buttocks or not.)
Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful
Life has not been all sunshine and happiness that you would expect for someone who is so beautiful. Lucy's beauty turns off lots of men that she meets. It gets explained here,
Some men took her dramatic outline for evidence that she was stupid. Some assumed she must be arrogant. Others guessed that she'd never consider them anyway, so why make the effort? A surprising number of potential partners were thereby eliminated before she'd even had a chance to learn their names. (7.12)
So even though she's super gorgeous, men don't even approach her because she is just too beautiful for them to have a chance. Riiiiiight. Because no one has ever hit on someone he doesn't actually have a shot with. And the irony is that Lucy is actually very nice and at least averagely smart. Dudes of the world: you're missing out.
Anyway, this is all a very convenient answer for why Lucy is still single and a virgin at 21 (is it us, or is that not actually a super-old age to be a virgin?) and why Luke hasn't tried to hook up with her. Luke apparently thinks that everyone else at work has been "suckered into her circle of admirers" and only liked her because of "infatuation, a sort of mass hypnosis among the staff" (4.9). Basically, Luke actually does hate her because she's beautiful—until he suddenly doesn't.
As you can see, we're not totally buying it—but we guess there needs to be some reason why a girl beautiful enough to catch the eye of the almighty himself hasn't already shacked up with someone else. More important, Lucy's problems with her appearance are symbolic of the problem all the other characters share. She's not just what she appears to be, just like Bob isn't much of a God and Mr. B is more than Bob's servant.
Did you guys notice that the way that Lucy is beautiful is often compared to an animal or plant or something else? Bob looks at her "Like a crocodile contemplating lunch" (26.14). He also says that she's "Hardly more than a butterfly herself. Yes, he thought, delighted, she was a butterfly, a flitting creature, at once delicate and rare" (26.10). Or how about in the very beginning of the novel where she is described as, "perfect as a rose herself, a flower newly opened—so perfect, you can imagine the sun breaking every rule of impartiality to beam down upon her, alone" (1.4).
It's a little weird, isn't it? There seems to be at least two things going on here. One is that Bob created humans just like he created animals and plants, so it would make sense that to him it's all more or less the same deal. Humans, plants, and animals would all be lower life forms that he made. So Lucy is kind of like a pet or a toy. In other words, she's not Bob's equal. She's just a pretty thing to play with.
The second thing is we see animals in a zoo. Guess where animals live at zoos? Cages. Yep. It's no coincidence that we keep hearing Bob looking at Lucy like he is going to eat her or talking about capturing her in a jar because he thinks about her more or less as a beautiful animal. Bob sees Lucy just like a captive zoo animal—and it's no wonder that one of his preferred methods of seduction is turning into an animal.
Of course, this tells us a bit more about Bob than it does about Lucy. (Although, since Bob indirectly created Lucy—we guess everything about her says something about him.)
Like a Virgin
There is a big deal made in the novel about Lucy's virginity. Whoop-de-doo. Generally, we at Shmoop don't care what's going on (or not going on) in your pants, but in this case it's fairly important. Lucy's mom tells us that she has always been religious:
Since childhood, Laura's younger child had been as religious as her sister was stubbornly secular, always turning the other cheek and maintaining a firm grip on her moral values. […] As young as six or seven, Lucy had been prone to visitations by angels, great winged apparitions that came nightly to sit on her bed (21.49).
Based on that we're guessing that Lucy was waiting to get married before having sex. Her religiousness also explains why, unlike other people who are freaked out by Bob's presence, she falls in love with him. (Of course, Bernard is religious too and hates Bob at first sight, but that's complicated. Check out his "Character Analysis" to see more about that.) Guess who else falls in love and marries God (at least symbolically)? Nuns.
So, Lucy is part nun. But her virginity also makes her just another one of the tons of virgin girls that Bob has slept with, not just the girls Zeus seduces in the forms of animals but also Christian martyrs like Joan of Arc. Plus, Lucy could easily be an ancient symbol of fertility, a modern Eve, or even the Virgin Mary. That's a lot of symbolism to lay on one fictional character, and—we're just saying—we're not entirely sure it works.
Since most of the time these ladies don't have a voice in their stories it would have been cool if Lucy gave them one. The thing is, she doesn't, really. She's just not much of a character. Sure, we can see what the real human effect of dating God has on Lucy, and it's not good. But Lucy just isn't very believable or round. How could she be? She has to represent too much to get any time to herself.