Study Guide

A Dog's Purpose Mortality

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We're told that All Dogs Go to Heaven. But if we believed everything Don Bluth said, we'd also think that mice wore cowboy hats and that Matt Damon was a space explorer years before he became the Martian.

The cold but honest truth is that all dogs, like all people, die. We all deal with death in different ways. In A Dog's Purpose,we learn that dogs, just like people, have to confront various deaths in their lives, from the deaths of doggy siblings, to the deaths of family cats, to the deaths of owners, and even their own deaths. Because our dog narrator is reborn, he hasn't gone to heaven…yet. Unless heaven is a place on earth.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How did you feel the first time the dog died? Did you feel differently the second time? And the third time? Does seeing the dog die multiple times change your feelings? Does knowing he will be reborn change your feelings about his death?
  2. How does Ethan's death compare to the dog's? Did you feel differently when Ethan died compared to when the dog died?
  3. What is the dog's attitude toward death at the beginning of the book? How does his attitude change by the book's end? Does he care more about the deaths of certain beings than he does about the deaths of others?

Chew on This

The dog's has little sense of perspective or scope beyond his immediate existence, so to him, death is often not a big deal. It's a natural part of life.

The dog learns from Ethan what to do when someone dies—stay by that person's side until he or she goes. He does the same thing for Ethan that Ethan did for him in a previous life.

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