Study Guide

Alas, Babylon The German Shepard

By Pat Frank

The German Shepard

In the early months after The Day, our heroes are faced with a potentially huge disaster when the Henrys' hens—a major food source—begin disappearing overnight.

Could it be a thief? A wild panther? An inquisitive alien?

Nope; it's a dog. Ben Franklin and Malachai discover this after shooting it one night, thinking that it's a hungry wolf. When Ben realizes that it's a German Shepard—and one Randy remembers from before The Day as a friendly house-pet—he gets upset. What kid would want to hurt a sweet doge?

In his reassurance of Ben, Randy slaps us with an excellent little metaphor. Check it out:

"It was a wolf," Randy said. "It wasn't a dog any long. In times like these dogs can turn into wolves." (9.264)

This is a perfect reflection of humanity after The Day. While we see many hopeful moments in the novel, especially within the newly formed Bragg Commune, there's plenty of darkness too. Think of the highwaymen, many of whom were once normal citizens. Like this dog, those highwaymen go wild as soon as society broke down, in the process losing what shreds of human decency they have left.

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