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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
This section contains 503 words
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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood Summary & Study Guide Description

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is Alexandra Bobo Fuller's memoir of a quirky, poignant, frightening, funny childhood in war-torn Africa between 1969 and 2002. Young Bobo must deal with an annoying older sister, drunken, unstable parents, the dangers of landmines and terrorists, and the death of a beloved baby sister on her journey to young adulthood.

Alexandra Fuller was conceived at Victoria Falls in Africa as her parents fled Kenya for England. Her parents buy a farm in Derbyshire, where Dad sells agricultural chemicals and Mum is too softhearted to kill the rabbits. After one damp, cold winter, the family goes back to Africa. On the way, toddler Bobo develops a high fever and nearly dies.

The Fullers buy Robandi, a cattle and tobacco farm in central Rhodesia, one of the few African nations still under white rule in the early 1970s. There, they are wary of rebels from the neighboring mountains of Mozambique and landmines on the roads to town. Both parents carry machine guns constantly. Children are taught to avoid cookie boxes that may contain bombs, to shoot a gun, and to administer first aid. Like most of her peers, before she is ten years old Bobo is regularly getting drunk and smokes cigarettes. The family returns from a relaxing evening with friends to find that their black maid Violet has been savagely stabbed by her husband, July.

When Bobo is seven, her beloved baby sister Olivia Jane is born. Just seventeen months later, the beautiful toddler drowns in a shallow duck pond while her parents are out shopping. This loss, along with the loss of two infant boys, leads Mum into a deep depression, drinking and abuse of prescription drugs. Eventually she starts hearing voices and imagines the neighbors are conspiring against her.

When the white Rhodesians lose the war, the government orders Robandi sold to black Africans and the Fullers are left with nothing. Dad accepts a one-year job at Devuli Ranch in the most oppressive part of Zimbabwe. While Mum is in the hospital, Bobo falls ill with food poisoning and nearly dies. Older sister Vanessa deals with Mum's increasing irrationality by scheduling a idyllic family picnic.

Dad accepts a job managing a tobacco farm in Malawi, where the houseboy is paid by the government to spy on the family. Bobo and Vanessa act like typical teenagers, experimenting with makeup, sun tanning, swimming, snorkeling, flirting with boys. After an accident with her motorbike, a farm worker invites Bobo into his hut to share a simple meal with her family. Bobo is deeply touched by their compassion, and for the first time feels empathy for the plight of the impoverished black Africans.

The family settles on a fertile farm in Zambia, where Bobo meets and eventually marries a handsome dark-haired American named Charlie. Mum is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and spends two years in a mental hospital. Eventually, she is released, and lives a "quietly manic" life with her husband on a fish farm in Zambia.

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This section contains 503 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood Study Guide
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